About Zaagibagaang



Zaagibagaang is a grassroots effort focused on governance and nation building. With our Anishinaabe teachings guiding us, we bring our gifts together to provide information and work towards mino-bimaadiziwin today as well as for the next seven generations.




* Our Seven Grandfather Teachings

* We are all related

*   Share your gifts

Everyone contributes. Have discipline. Do it

*   Make a good life for all of us

*   We feel the love of our ancestors. Circles…generations

*   Engage, don’t shame

*   Put out your tobacco

*   New things might fail. That’s OK. We have to try

*   It isn’t about the individual

*   We must be tolerant, non-judging

*   Take care of family, clan, band, and the Nation and the world.

*   People are hurting, they need empathy and compassion, not disdain or resentment

*   Responsibility, self-sufficiency

*   Respect, love, giving, helping

Who is Zaagibagaang

WHAT: Promoting greater civic participation and democracy within our Tribal government

HOW: Nurture healthy, high-functioning circle of individuals who bring their gifts together

WHY: Mino-Bimaadiziwin, Us/We/Belonging; self-sufficiency individually as well as for the Nation

Zaagibagaang is a group of people from the bands of Ojibwe that form the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. We have been in a planning process with the ultimate goal of engaging and empowering people to take a more active role as Anishinaabe citizens, and also educating them about the history and role of tribal government. People have the capacity to take responsibility and make decisions when they have information that is offered in a good way. In the circle, everyone can blossom and then ideas leap forth to make the circle – the nation - stronger. If the circle is strong, then good ideas and actions will come forth.

We have chosen the Ojibwe word Zaagibagaang to represent our work. It describes the buds of trees and flowers as they blossom in springtime. We envision this process for our people, where their individual voices and gifts burst forth.  This is a new time for everyone to share their gifts and contributions toward mino-bimaadiziwin. Zaagibagaang is about strengthening our nations and communities. We want to empower people to freely participate in their tribal governments; whatever form that might take: to get involved, to share their ideas, to speak up, and to vote. The specific action is up to them. 

We know the current reality in our communities. The US government created a system of dependency, which has resulted in some people looking entirely to government or others to take care of their needs. Many of our citizens are disengaged and do not understand the structure and role of tribal government and therefore they don’t realize they can contribute to solutions. We are largely operating with systems and structures that were imposed upon us. In 1934, the federal government pushed a top-down IRA government system on us. This system does not reflect or nurture our circular view and side-by-side values. It does not help when schools are not teaching our youth about tribal government or tribal civic participation.

 If our tribes are going to be fully sovereign, self-sufficient nations, we need every single person giving his or her best. Tribal sovereignty is tied to personal sovereignty. We need to strengthen individuals while we also strengthen the circle. The circle can sustain us, just as our other Anishinaabe beliefs and way of life do. We must consider ways to return to our culture in the way we live, make decisions, and move forward together. This is about self-determination that is grounded in who we are, where we have been, and where we want to go as Anishinaabeg.

 We want to dialogue with more Anishinaabe people about understanding the history, getting involved, and considering ways of tribal democracy and governance that fits with who we are as Anishinaabeg. This requires us to bring together not only our minds – but also our hearts and spirits. We need the time and space to share information and to share our hopes and dreams. Because many people are skeptical or distrustful, we cannot only talk about new possibilities that can feel like abstractions, but also must show people what it means to be part of a strong, loving circle - so they can feel it and come to believe in it.

 This may seem like a daunting task, but the same Anishinaabe values and beliefs that sustained our ancestors guide us today. By practicing the Seven Grandfather Teachings (love, respect, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty and truth) as well as our ceremonies, we will continue to work towards mino-bimaadiziwin. We invite you to join us in these efforts.

3E and Zaagibagaang Members

3E started in the summer of 2016; we evolved from the Native Nations Rebuilders Program, Cohort 6 Barb Fabre (White Earth), Christina Bowstring (Leech Lake), Lorna LaGue (White Earth), Melissa Boyd (Mille Lacs), Nicole Buckanaga (Leech Lake), Vanessa Northrup (Fond du Lac), and Veronica Smith (Fond du Lac) who worked together to start the creation of an action plan that would ultimately provide educational opportunities to MCT members wide (December, 2015).   While that action plan was a good start, it quickly became apparent that it would not be enough if the group wanted to really have an effective outcome.

Lorna LaGue and Jill Doerfler wrote a planning grant to the Bush Foundation to create a plan to provide training on the MCT Constitution.  The original group met throughout the summer to outline steps needed:

Donald Chosa, Bois Forte

Elyse Lawrey, Grand Portage

Jill Doerfler, White Earth

John Morrin, Grand Portage

Karlene Chosa, Bois Forte

Lorna LaGue, White Earth, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Louie Johannsen, White Earth

Melissa Boyd, Mille Lacs, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Michaa Aubid, Mille Lacs

Sharon Day, Bois Forte

Vanessa Northrup, Fond du Lac, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Victor Aubid, Grand Portage

After the plan was created Jill and Lorna wrote another grant to the Bush Foundation to execute the plans.  The group's name was changed to Zaagibagaang, to better represent the work that was being done.  Regular members of this group included:

Adrienne Benjamin, Mille Lacs

Bill Boutwell, White Earth

Bradley Harrington, Mille Lacs

Christina Bowstring, Leech Lake, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Dani Pieratos, Bois Forte

Donald Chosa, Bois Forte

Elyse Lawrey, Grand Portage

Gerald White, Leech Lake

Jill Doerfler, White Earth

John Morrin, Grand Portage

Joyce LaPorte, Fond Du Lac

Karlene Chosa, Bois Forte

Laurie Eide

Linda LeGarde-Grover, Bois Forte

Lorna LaGue, White Earth, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Louie Johannsen, White Earth

Lyz Jaakola, Fond Du Lac

Margaret Rousu, White Earth, Rebuilder Cohort 7

Melissa Boyd, Mille Lacs, Rebuilder Cohort 6

Nicole Pieratos, Bois Forte, Rebuilder Cohort 7

Sharon Day, Bois Forte

Sharon Dewey, White Earth, Cohort 2

If you would like a presentation to learn more about Zaagibagaang or would like a presentation on the MCT Constitution at your next meeting, please feel free to contact us.