AIS has a new Community Engagement Coordinator
Greetings, my relatives. My name is Wesley Ballinger, I am known as Niiyogiizhig. I am eagle clan from the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe. I currently reside in St. Paul. I’m very excited to join the American Indian Studies Department team as the Community Engagement Coordinator. It feels wonderful to be back on the Twin Cities campus where I earned my B.A. double majoring in American Indian Studies: Ojibwe Language Focus and Art.
My family and I recently moved back to the Twin Cities from Ashland, Wisconsin where I worked at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) for ten years. During my tenure as a Language Specialist and Program Coordinator, I worked on several Ojibwe language projects to produce resource materials in language revitalization. As an added responsibility in working with the language, my work at GLIFWC promoted Anishinaabe culture, history, ideologies, traditional knowledge, and sovereignty as necessary tools in developing meaningful tribal natural resource management strategies and outreach efforts.
I have also been very fortunate to use art in my Ojibwe language and culture work at GLIFWC and beyond. My artwork has been used in Ojibwe posters for GLIFWC as well as museum interactive displays for the Minnesota Historical Society and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indians. However, my greatest honor was helping to create several Ojibwe language children books. Working with many great first-speakers and the finest Ojibwemowin scholars to produce the Awesiiyensag book series, a Library of Congress’ “Best Read in Minnesota 2011” award.
I look forward to sharing my experiences, knowledge and perspective to the department and to continue the important work of serving our tribal communities in a respectful way. Thank you, Miigwech,