On Tuesday morning, May 26, 2015 a traditional offering of tobacco and cedar was scattered on the waters of Lake Superior by 14-year-old Kayla Dakota to mark the beginning of a second trip by KBIC tribal youth to visit one of the most remote, isolated National Parks in North America. The first KBIC youth expedition to Isle Royale took place in May 2013 aboard the 36 ft. research vessel “Agassiz.”
KBIC Youth Return to Isle Royale National Park
Maamaadizi: “Beginning a Journey” in the Anishinaabe language
Thanks to a partnership between Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Natural Resource Department,the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute, Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center, and the Isle Royale Institute, thirteen young people boarded the park’s transport ferry, the Ranger III, to begin a six hour journey to what, long ago, Ojibway peoples called Minong, “the good place.”
In days that followed, activities included challenging hikes along Isle Royale’s Greenstone Ridge, a visit to the Edison Fishery, scientific sampling of plankton in Island inlets, educational conversations with Rolf Peterson who founded the Isle Royale WolfIMoose Project, and the creation of 13 art projects from birch bark, rocks and paint.
Youth learned how to set up tents, organize meals, read navigational maps and, each morning, participated in mind/body exercises designed to build levels of empathy, balance, and emotional self-regulation. On Friday evening, June 29th, KBIC’s Natural Resources Director Lori Ann Sherman traveled to the Park with tribal representatives and members of the Four Thunders Drum group to join the youth delegation for a ceremonial feast and special evening celebration.
Since the establishment of Isle Royale National Park in 1940, it was the first time an official tribal delegation from Michigan brought back sacred songs to this wilderness area. Though often forgotten, Isle Royale National Park’s 400 small islands are included within the boundaries of KBIC’s ceded territories acknowledged in the tribe’s 1842 and 1854 Treaties with the U.S. Federal Government.
KBIC tribal representatives carried to the Friday evening’s closing ceremony a sacred ceremonial pipe, its stone head carved more than a century ago from rock found high on one of the Island’s ridges. Sounds of drums echoed across the mist-covered harbor, a reminder of the long, rich history of Native American culture and community that continues to remain a signature of life in the Great Lakes Basin.
Youth & participants included Kayan Goodbird, Eija Dakota, Kayla Dakota, Rich Geroux, Darian DeCota. Lily Messer. Alana Scholfield. Jeani Aho, Harley Geroux, Kolt Wickstrom, Cody Owens. Charlie Spruce, and Aidan Alakayak
Support & Staff included Katrina Ravindran, Ken Vrana, Marty Auer, Jon Magnuson, Diana Magnuson, Ken Wickstrom, Vrasha Raman, Nathan Zgnilee, Aubrey Scott, and Captain Stephen Roblee
Submitted by Jon Magnuson, The Cedar Tree Institute