The Advance-Titan

Menominee Language Series seeks to educate UWO on real native culture

Mckenzie Konop

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Menominee Nation member and speaker Dennis Kenote said UW Oshkosh students could learn more about Menominee Nation traditions through culture and language.

UWO’s Office of Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence in partnership with the American Indian Student Services office chose Kenote to speak in a four-part series on Menominee Nation language and culture at the Center for Equity and Diversity.

UWO student Sayeda Zahra Mousah said the reason she attended this event is because she is interested in learning about cultures.

“I came from Afghanistan to the U.S. to study different cultures and languages in the communities around here,” Mousah said. “This is the first event I have went to here on campus because I am interested in this particular minority that is still existing in this country.”

Kenote said he wanted to speak to students at UWO about the presence Menominee Nation language and culture has in Wisconsin.

“I think it is important to make students aware of the fact the Menominee tribe were the first people here,” Kenote said. “Nobody in Wisconsin really knows about Menominee’s techniques used in language and culture, and I would like to make people here aware of them.”

During the first portion of the event, Kenote said learning the basics of the Menominee tribe’s language is essential in better understanding their culture.

“The words I have chosen to teach to everyone today are simple terms including how to say seasons, numbers and the alphabet,” Kenote said. “Anyone can learn these terms very easily and is the key part in trying to learn our language.”

As the four-part series continues, Kenote said the language skills he is teaching will develop and become less complex for people who continue to attend these sessions.

“The next session I will be teaching how to speak in complete sentences with some of the words we learned this [session] and will learn next session,” Kenote said. “This will help the people who came to this event and continue to come to better speak our language and understand it.”

Mousah said learning about the language strengthened her interest in Menominee culture.

“The words they use to pronounce words we use in the U.S. are entirely different,” Mousah said. “I hope to learn more about the language from these sessions as they go on.”

American Indian Student Services Coordinator Dennis Zack said the main goal of letting Kenote speak on campus is to help UWO students understand the life of the indigenous peoples of Wisconsin.

“The Menominee Indian Nation are the first people to have walked this area long before UW Oshkosh was conceived,” Zack said. “Oshkosh was named after Chief Oshkosh who helped his people from further removal from their homelands.”

To make sure the culture is not lost, Kenote said he wants to emphasize celebrating the Menominee tribe’s existence in Wisconsin to others.

“Our tribe having to leave the land, while devastating, is also a way to commemorate the life of the Menominee people,” Kenote said. “I want the students to think about the Menominee culture in a positive way and not in a negative light.”

Mousah said the event overall was very informative and worth attending.

“I got inspired to go to this event to learn more about the Menominee people actually from seeing exhibits based on them at the Oshkosh Public Museum,” Mousah said. “I noticed after seeing these exhibits and the information we learned from this session was actually closely related to my cultural art and practices. I am curious to see how these group of people and the rest of their culture relates back to mine in the next few sessions.”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Menominee Language Series seeks to educate UWO on real native culture