Classroom Model ‘Post(s)’ Rave Reviews

Aug 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-1: The Winding Road to Student Success, Tribal College News

PLAYING NATIVE GRANDMOTHER. Danielle Hornett, president of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, performed the part of a Native grandmother in “Post.” Photo by Greg Furtman

An ambitious multimedia project premiered at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC, Hayward, WI) in April 2006, to an overflow crowd in the James “Pipe” Mustache Auditorium. To set the stage for “Post,” the Sustainable Living Institute of LCOOCC hosted ecological and environmental presentations, which were supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The original play “Post” revisits the story of the Winter Dam construction in the 1920s. The dam flooded the village of Post along with the Ojibwe wild rice beds, cemeteries, and homes and created the well known Chippewa Flowage of northern Wisconsin. This historical event forever changed a culture and the environment.

In the play a wide range of characters return from the grave to tell their stories. “When this new progressive approach to our writing class was presented, most of us students were skeptical, but afterwards I felt like my growth throughout was worth every minute of it!” said Amanda Whitebird, Ojibwe student actress.

Patrick Shields, English and Sociology instructor, who also produced the play, initiated the idea for his Advanced Composition course. Originally meant to teach students how to appreciate and compose poetry and drama, it evolved into a major collaboration of faculty and staff, current and former students, the Makwa Drama Club, and even Danielle Hornett, the new college president. Nursing Instructor Buffy Riley directed, and the play was filmed with the assistance of UW Madison.

“Post” incorporated poetry, drama, music by jazz recording artist Randy Sabien, the Grindstone Lake Singers Drum Group, and actual photographs from the 1920s.

The project met its objectives to raise historical consciousness about the area, to give voice to the Native population, and to build community by engaging people in dialogue on relevant issues, according to Shields. He says, “I have discovered a model that I can use for years to come. I hope to keep the momentum going.” He adds the project created quite a stir in the community, but it turned out very positive.

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