Bemidji State Unviersity professor of Ojibwe, Anton Treuer

Bemidji State University professor of Ojibwe, Anton Treuer

The book chosen this year as Minnesota’s Best Read for 2011—the book chosen to represent the state at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C., the book chosen by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress---is a simple picture book.

“Awesiinyensag: Dibaajimowinan Ji-gikinoo'amaageng,” is the story of a playful group of animals, and, as you might have figured out by now, it was not written in English. It was written in Ojibwe and published locally by a nonprofit press. It’s the first in a planned series of language books poublished by Birchbark House, a tribal language publishing firm started by sisters Heid and Louise Erdrich.
In an e-mail, Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and one of the editors of the book, wrote: “I just love it that anyone who wants to read the best book in Minnesota this year has to read it in Ojibwe!”
Other editors include Nancy Jones, Eugene Stillday, Rose Tainter, Anna Gibbs,Marlene Stately, Keller Paap, Lisa LaRonge,Michael Sullivan, John Nichols, Lucia Bonacci and Heather Fairbanks. It was illustrated by Wesley Ballinger.
It is quite fun (and, for me, mysterious) to read the blurbs praising the book—they, too, are written in Ojibwe.
The award carries no cash prize, but it certainly shines a bright light on the new and emerging trend of native publishing. The book festival will be Sept. 24 and 25 in Washington, D.C.


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