The Ojibwe Language Project grew out of a three-year partnership between the League of Women Voters Park Rapids Area, the Park Rapids Public Library and Pine Point community members.
Order forms were sent to Park Rapids Downtown Business Association members last week, with the target date for mounting signs being prior to Memorial Day.
Bemidji, Walker, Detroit Lakes, Grand Marais, Duluth, Kelliher, White Earth and Red Lake have launched the Ojibwe Language Project in their communities.
In this first phase of the Park Rapids project, the committee is designing bilingual signs with Pine Point School for their K-8 school and offering support to the Park Rapids High School Indian Education Program as the school district develops its signage.
Local businesses are encouraged to post signs of welcome at their entrances. The committee aims to incorporate dual-language signage throughout the community.
“The goal of the project is to create an inclusive, welcoming environment with an awareness of and respect for Ojibwe culture,” said committee member Beth Baker-Knuttila. “It is the hope of the committee that the use of bilingual signage will acknowledge the Ojibwe as first inhabitants of our area, encourage more curiosity about the Ojibwe culture by local residents and tourists alike, and encourage better relationships between the communities of Park Rapids and Pine Point as well as others on the White Earth Reservation.”
In the future, the committee plans to facilitate the expansion of the project more broadly throughout the community in multiple phases. Interest has already been expressed by the city, hospital and some resort owners, according to Baker-Knuttila.
Last week, sample signage became available for viewing by resort owners at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. They were designed by the committee with the assistance of Pat Ahmann of Innovative Graffix.
To learn more about the project or order signs, send an email to the project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you provide your phone number, one of the committee members will call you,” said Baker-Knuttila.
People are also invited to join the ACTION Park Rapids committee.
“People may offer to help a subcommittee working on one small phase of the project, with no obligation to continue beyond the completion of that phase,” Baker-Knuttila said.