by Nathan Warner
“Aaniin. Welcome,” American Indian elder and competition judge Dr. Rick Gresczyk nods to the two teams sitting at separate tables in a small classroom. He holds up his first quiz question. “What is the Ojibwe word for wild rice?” The answer? “Manoomin.”
So began the second annual Ojibwe and Dakota Quiz Bowl Tournament Saturday, April 9 at Lincoln Elementary in Elk River.
The tournament drew American Indian students from across the school district. Five American Indian elders traveled from as far away as Canada to judge the event. Fifteen teams of four students each competed for first place, which included tickets donated by Valleyfair.
The remaining students won prizes donated by area businesses.
First-place winners Brittany Hathcock, Aurora Burns, Hope Martindale, Kelly Freshwater and Jonah Isham won for Elk River High School.
Dan Jones, an elder with the Fond du Lac tribal community, closed the ceremony in the gym by addressing the students.
“On behalf of the elders here today, you are all an immense inspiration to us,” he said “You have greatly encouraged us that our way of life is not dead and has a bright future with you.”
Debra Blair, coordinator with the American Indian Education Program in Elk River Area School District, administered the competition. She teaches Ojibwe and Dakota language and culture across 17 schools in District 728. There are 198 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
For more information about the event or other opportunities, call Blair at 241-3400, ext. 5160.