Big Top Chautauqua features Anishinaabe Dibaajimowin: An Ojibwe Story
Bayfield Wis -- On Friday, July 30th and Saturday, July 31st of 2021, Big Top Chautauqua hosted an event unseen anywhere else, and told stories untold anywhere else to the general public. This was a great event that included musicians, storytellers from various Native American reservations telling traditional stories.
“Anishinaabe Daabajimowin: An Ojibwe Story” was sponsored by WXPR Rhinelander, Eckels Pottery and Fine Craft Gallery, as well as WRP. The event was held at Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield Wisconsin. The opening prayer was provided by Gerald DePerry, and a Land Acknowledgement was given by Katrina Werchouski.
Big Top Chautauqua features a cultural connection series where Native and Non-Native people alike could experience Wigwam Talks, and Wigwam building that help guests, patrons, and performers alike to get an inside view into how life was for the Anishinaabe people.
The show highlighted Indigenous culture for the Lake Superior region. Additional topics included both historical and current events including, but not limited to; systematic oppression of minorities, minority groups, and those pushing for equality. Generational trauma healing has been a hot topic for decades, and Big Top Chautauqua helped provide a platform for Lake Superior region Indigenous storytellings to share their insights, stories, and traditions as it relates to healing generational trauma.
Transcribing the show with the Ojibwe language were both Lisa Clemens (Lac Courte Oreilles), and Lyz Jaakola (Fond Du Lac), displaying and proving that Ojibwe language and culture are very much alive through the preservation and education practices from each Ojibwe community in attendance.
Creators, Michael Charette and Severin Behnen are joined by musical artists from Red Cliff, Bad River, LCO and Fond du Lac and members of the Blue Canvas Orchestra in a new musical theatre show that celebrates the rich culture and history of the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes region. Traditional music meets modern music, ancient storytelling meets spoken word and hip hop, while the big screen features original artwork, beautiful photography and historical images. Come and sit with us, learn about this beautiful and proud culture through story, song, poetry and dance.
In a conversation with Michael “Laughing Fox” Charette, he states, “We learn that the first treaty was between the Anishinaabe people and the creator, which includes taking only what you need to live a good life in balance and harmony.” Stories included the relationship between with Indigenous people and the natural world, the relationship with animals and how much they truly provide for the lifestyles of Indigenous people. Local singers sang songs about the Apostle Islands highlighting the early European map mapers, and how they miscounted the islands. The songs included a decolonized perspective of the culture that surrounds the Great Lakes region.
Charette goes on to state, “There were so many good things that were contributed to make it all come together and possible, namely by a host of good people.” Charette shares the planning that took place to make this possible. There were months of planning meetings via zoom where contributors and performers alike shared ideas and content. The elders from various Ojibwe communities were asked to share their input. There were generations of dancers and future storytellers highlighted.
Let’s not forget the Blue Canvas Orchestra that spent countless hours working with the cast learning the Ojibwe language and culture. Jan Lee was given high praise as the state and script director. Severin Behnen, musical director, included his talents by blending powerful and moving scores to the storytelling portions.
Let’s meet the cast and all of those wonderful people that made this show possible:
Meet the Cast
Micheal “Laughing Fox” Charette (Red Cliff) - Flute, Storytelling, Songwriter, and Dancer
Marty Curry (Madeline Island) - Storytelling
Lyz Jaakola (Fond Du Lac) - Drummer, Song Writer, Singer, and Storyteller
Lisa Clemens (Lac Courte Oreilles) - Singer, Storyteller, and Songwriter
Martin Powless (Bad River) - Drummer and Singer
Kevin Soulier (Red Cliff) - Singer
Robert Buffalo (Hereditary Chief of Red Cliff) - Storyteller
Blue Canvas Orchestra
Severin Behnen - Music Director
Jan Lee - Scrip and Stage Director
Betty Ferris - Visuals
Band - Severin Behnen, ED Willet, Randy Sabien, Tom Mitchell, and Vince Osborn
Theresa Gordon - Traditional and Jingle Dress
Ella Goodwin - Jingle Dress
Ronald Lemieux - Traditional
Carolyn Gouge - Traditional and Jingle Dress
Robert Powless - Woodland
Leora DePerry - Fancy
Gretchen Morris - Jingle Dress
Ozawaa Helms - Grass Dancer
Dillion Krisk - Grass Dancer
James Pete - Traditional
Jagger Jaakola - Hand Drum
Big Top Chautauqua
Terry Meyer Matier - Director
A special thank you goes out to all of those that made this possible, and were not mentioned. Those individuals were helpful in offering advice, music, artwork, and content.
“Chi Miigwech goes out to those teachers, writers, elders, language speakers and many others who help pass on traditional culture and language to future generations.”
Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua acknowledges and honors the Anishinaabe, the traditional caretakers of this land on which we are all gathered today. For the Ojibwe people, past and present, and for you and all of our relations, we acknowledge our responsibility to care for this land and to work together for the good of future generations. We remember, we honor, and we promise.
Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a non-profit arts organization with a mission to provide entertaining and educational activities with an emphasis on performances that celebrate history and the environment.
For more information on Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua and the events that fill the summer months into August and September, please visit www.BigTop.org.
Explore the Shore
225 E Lynde Ave
Bayfield WI 54814
Explore the Shore