An Ojibwe chef has opened a restaurant in Wisconsin on Lake Superior.
Lina Tran of station WUWM reports.
Miijim is on Madeline Island, a sacred place for Ojibwe people.
It’s a homecoming for chef Bryce Stevenson, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
He says he wants the place to represent the Red Cliff and Bad River bands, who were forcibly removed from the island.
“I want to reclaim a little spot on the island with our traditional foods and to take those foods and just make them accessible.”
Miijim’s focus is seasonal, serving up meats like venison and bison alongside wild rice, mushrooms, and ramps.
They aim to source products from Native-owned businesses.
Stevenson has been cooking since he was young, using commodities like ramen and Rice-A-Roni.
“When things started getting rough for my mom and her marriage, she was working three jobs, night and day. There were 5 of us, and I had to cook a lot. I had to cook dinner for my siblings.”
He entered the food industry in Milwaukee and worked in fine-dining spots across the country. But he always told himself he needed to open a restaurant where he was from.
“I just kept putting it in my head, I have to go back to Red Cliff, I need to open up where I’m from. I need to make something like this up there because nothing like it has ever existed.”
The island is a summer tourist hotspot.
Stevenson says there aren’t many expressions of current Indigenous culture.
With Miijim, he wants to show Native people are there and thriving.
At college graduation ceremonies across the nation, universities also award honorary doctorates.
As Rhonda McBride from our flagship station KNBA tells us, one of those went to an elder in Juneau, Alaska.
Anna Elhers’ love affair with Lingít weaving began in downtown Juneau, as a small child, when she saw her uncle in a July 4 parade, wearing a Chilkat blanket with fringe that seemed to have a life of its own.
“The fringe was very blowing and graceful. The colors and the design. My little four-year-old eyes just fell in love with it, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life was to make those.”
It wasn’t until 20 years later that she shared her dream with a state lawmaker while working at the State Capitol.
When Elhers explained she would have to take a year off from work to learn to weave, something she couldn’t afford to do, a group of Alaska Native lawmakers got together and wrote a bill to give her a grant, equivalent to a year’s salary.
It came just in time for Elhers to work under Jennie Thlunaut, then in her nineties, and a master at using mountain goat wool and cedar bark fibers to weave, knowledge that is precious.
“Jennie Thlunaut said we were not to be stingy with the knowledge she gave us.”
Knowledge that Elhers has used to teach more than 300 students, a spirit of generosity the University of Alaska Southeast recognized during its graduation ceremony this year.
“I am honored to present Anna Elhers with the Honorary Doctorate of Fine arts. Congratulations, Dr. Anna Elhers.”
At 68, Dr. Elhers is not done yet.
“The project I’m doing is the biggest Chilkat blanket in the world”
The design is secret until the blanket goes on a national tour in 2025.
A library in Southwest Alaska has received a National Medal for excellence.
As KNBA news reports, the Kuskokwim Consortium Library is one of four libraries nationwide to be honored by the Institute of Museum and Library Service.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) says she nominated the Bethel library, because it provides a wide range of services that go beyond giving access to internet connectivity and educational support, but also works to preserve Yup’ik culture and help the homeless.
The library serves a primarily Alaska Native community, as well as students who attend the Kuskokwim Campus, a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Three other libraries were recognized – the Los Angeles County Library, the Long Branch Free Public Library in New Jersey, and the Toledo Lucas County Library in Ohio.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. this summer.
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