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(Many Paths)
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Saginaw Chippewa Academy Students Take To The Stage For "An Anishinaabe Carol"
by Joseph V. Sowmick - Photojournalist, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Observer

Saginaw Chippewa Academy pre-K through sixth grade students took to the Soaring Eagle Entertainment Hall stage on Dec. 14 for the school's winter program, "An Anishinaabe Carol."

The Saginaw Chippewa Academy third grade class performs on the SECR Entertainment Hall stage on Dec. 14.
Alicia Boursaw’s first grade class performs during the SCA version of “An Anishinaabe Carol.”

The Anishinaabe Bimaadiziwin kinomaage ininiwag (teacher men) Aaron Chivis, Nathan Isaac, Joe Syrette, Matthew J. "Cubby" Sprague and James Day, and kinomaage kwe Cecilia Stevens collaborated on the script and translations for the program.

Day served as emcee for the event and Melissa Montoya, tribal education director, welcomed parents and community members.

"We always try to combine a holiday message with an opportunity to teach the importance of our language and culture," Montoya said. "The SCA AB team did a tremendous group effort to bring this production together and worked hard with the students on the songs and the staging for the event. We are so pleased to see all of the support given to the SCA students by the parents, grandparents and community and we here at SCA wish everyone a 'Mino Bimaadiziwin' for their family."

The program offered nine separate components that spanned the classes, including the afterschool program.

Stevens had pre-K performing a water song that she composed for SCA use.

The words sang by the students were "gii zagimin nibi, nii mashka wiziimin, gii shaaw wiiziwin gagiige, miigwetchiwendam shaw wemin." (We love you water, for the nourishment strength that you give us, we are forever thankful.)

Chivis taught the kindergarten class a song that was originally composed by Isaac.

The translated words are "aambe taga wiijiiwishin, misaabe." (Please come with me, misaabe.)

Syrette had the first graders learn a newly-created round dance song.

The Ojibwe translated words had the students singing "manidoog nibina daa'aa naa'aan, bi'daadjimoonaan, gii'baabigwaananik wii bizindamiing." (The Spirits have many messages; they are waiting for us to listen.) Syrette gave special thanks to elder Isabelle Osawamick who helped with the story line and translations.

Sprague taught the second graders a song with background music "wegnesh wa nadaangda biish? Niinwa, kiindash? Noondemina Shkigmikwe" (Who will stand for the water? We will, will you? Love Mother Earth!)

Stevens' third grade class was a production of the first coming of the Spirit of Shkigmikwe (Mother Earth).

"This portion of the program had the students in a playground scene when Shkigmikwe arrives and lets the students know of the
coming spirits, each with an important message," Stevens said. "The main speaking part from the third grade class was done by SCA student Annalicia Palomo."

Day had the fourth graders construct nimkii binesii, or thunderbird.

The thunderbird was spectacular and the Soaring Eagle's Entertainment team offered special lighting effect so enhance its dramatic presentation.

"This Spirit came to show how people of present day use nibiish (water), and how we can be wasteful and sometimes disrespectful to bibiish," Day said. "Some examples used in the program were not shutting off the water when brushing our teeth, water bottle flipping, and protecting the Great Lakes from Enbridge Line 5 beneath the straights of Mackinaw."

Day also worked with this fifth grade class to construct misaabe; a giant spirit that is the traditional protector of the woods.

"Misaabe tells of how Anishinaabeg long ago protected our water, how the water was clean, and how water was held in a sacred place," Day said. "Misaabe then sings a song for the audience as the students illustrate different ways Anishinaabeg traditionally used nibiish."

Chivis and sixth grade teacher Isabel Stanton's students thought up and constructed mishibizhiw, or our Anishinaabeg spirit, the underwater panther.

"Students learned of traditional teachings in class as to how mishibizhiw looked, where she lived, and her importance to traditional Anishinaabeg," Chivis said. "The onstage rendition was comprised of what the students thought mishibizhiw would look like from the stories and teachings shared in class. The message of the this final spirit, mishibizhiw, was that of what the future could hold if we don't start to respect our nibiish, and taking care of it as Anishinaabeg once did."

The afterschool singing group joined the teachers onstage for a finale of a water song, originally composed by Dorene Day.

The translated words are "niibi gii-zah-gay-e-goo, gii miigwetch wayn-ne-megoo, gii-zha wayn ne-me-goo." (Water we love you, we thank you, we respect you.)

"(The AB teachers) would like to thank Amanda Mandoka for coming to the entertainment hall and helping with props and decorations leading up the program," Chivis said. "We would also like to give recognition to Nathan Isaac for coming in during his paternity leave to help finish up the final production slides and decorations. Finally, a chimiigwetch to all that showed their support by attending the 2016 SCA Winter Program."

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