Nimkii Aazhibikong (pronounced Nim-key Ah-zh-ih-bih-coo-ng) is a place where youth and Elders come to connect to the land, each other and to pass down the language and traditional knowledge to the next generations.
Nimkii Aazhibikong means Village of Thunder Mountain. It’s the name given by Elders to a year-round Ojibway Art, Culture and Language Revitalization Camp being built by a community of youth, Elders and organizers located north of Elliot Lake, Ontario within traditional Anishinaabeg territory.
Nimkii Aazhibikong is an independent Indigenous led camp that is focused on connecting young people with elders for arts and cultural land-based teachings. The camp is an Ojibway language revitalization camp for youth that is working towards producing the next generation of fluent speakers on the land. Guided by elders, it is also a camp for cultural resurgence of sustainable Indigenous practices and restoration of traditional Indigenous land and resource protection and management.
Right now Indigenous languages including Anishinaabemowin along the North Shore of Lake Huron is in crisis. Many of the speakers are Elders and many communities have no children speaking the language. We want to inspire the next generation and encourage fluency in the language. The Elders have told us this can only be fully realized while on the land.
Our goals include:
* encouraging and fostering Anishinaabemowin conversational fluency among the learners at Nimkii Aazhibikong,
* building a large co-op style art studio where traditional arts and contemporary arts can be practiced,
* Practicing the traditional ways of living on the land and passing knowledge down from Elders to young people so they can be the Elders of the future that our communities need,
* Building and existing in sustainable and environmentally conscious ways,
* Practicing Inaaktagewin, traditional governance which comes from the land and waters.
At the camp members blend a learning environment of ‘daily living in the language’ with organized events to support language learning or arts events for guests to attend. The numbers of visitors to the camp ebbs and flows as events are organized but frequently reach between 30-60 people. Some events have had over 200 people attend. About 20 organizers and volunteers make up the core group .
Since June 7, 2017 we have built 3 cabins, a community cook-house, and several traditional Anishinaabe lodge structures as well as a shower house, outhouses and storage sheds.
In this coming year we are planning to build an additional 3 cabins, a 60’ art studio space, a 50’ roundhouse, a community garden and smoke house.
The planned art studio space will be operated somewhat like a co-op, where young people can have access to professional supplies and gain skills for traditional and contemporary arts, working with elders or established artists. Emerging artists and established artists alike need to have the freedom to create, experiment and explore with professional grade tools and materials they may not otherwise be able to afford. It is envisioned as a space where someone might be making a birch canoe in one corner, basket making in another and lino cut printing or painting in another. Plus an outdoor space for doing things like tanning hides or carving, etc. This space will double as a language learning space where large groups can come together for language activities.
The language learning continues on a daily basis and is incorporated throughout all activities at the camp, from building, to cooking to daily maintenance to specialized events.
We are not funded by governments or corporations. Our support has come from the grassroots and like minded groups. If you would like to support Nimkii Aazhibikong, we have many ways that you can help:
Check or money order to: Onaman Collective, P.O. Box 215, Cutler, ON, P5E 1K1
Etransfer or Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org (please make the password “Onaman”)
We also have launched several t-shirt campaigns, all are available here: http://onamancollective.com/onaman-collective-t-shirts/
Follow our updates on our Facebook page: Nimkii Aazhibikong