Growing Up Ojibwe: Games that allow players to work on and learn about Ojibwe’s customs and traditions are now available for download on their Android devices. Also playable In any web browser..
Players can choose to play as either Tommy or Annie Sky, two young men from Ojibwe, as they travel through northern Wisconsin to learn about their heritage. The game is based on a series of children’s books of the same name.
Eleanore Falck is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and an artist, programmer and developer at Growing Up Ojibwe: The Game. She designed the game during a summer internship with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). The organization has also published this series.
Falk completed the first three levels in the summer of 2019 and worked five days a week from March 2020 to complete the last two levels.
“”[GLIFWC] I wanted to connect with the younger generation and do something educational for the younger generation, so I thought games were an easy way to get children interested. Especially in the middle school age group, “Falk said.
“Video games are a very good way to actually learn things,” Falck continued. “The game is so interactive that it’s great for teaching. It’s easy to repeat and remember. You’re doing it yourself, so it’s your experience, not someone else’s.”
There are five levels in the game, each exploring aspects of Ojibwe’s life and culture. Treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, maple sap collection, spear fishing, and wild rice harvesting.
Spear fishing became a controversial topic in the late 1980s, leading to tense clashes and standoffs when indigenous people exercised their rights. This topic has recently become a hot button issue again. Just last year, a man from Lac du Flavo was shot with a spear.
“At the spearfishing level, players learn about the history of spearfishing in the northern region of Wisconsin,” Falk said. “Players learn about sustainable harvests. This is a big point because there was a lot of racism against indigenous peoples during the spear fishing controversy. Many whites are very reaffirming the treaty. Some people think that if a tribe can exercise its treaty rights and go out and spearfish, the environment will be harmed if the tribe is very careful. Is really pushed to that level. ”
As a descendant of the Oneida tribe, whose father is a member of the tribe, Falk was already familiar with the growth of Ojibwe: some of the customs featured in the game. However, the design and development of the game allowed Falck to “discover part of my identity.”
“I grew up learning a little about culture. My family harvested wild rice and maple syrup,” she said. “I actually incorporated my experience into the game, so I was introduced to some of the activities already shown, but in fact I did more education about culture during this internship. received.”
As the flood of good reviews, Falk added that she was grateful and inspired by the people who enjoyed playing her game.
“I’m also a Native American who wants to show his son the game, and it received a letter from a really sweet person,” Falk said. “It really makes me happy [that] I’m getting a good response. Supporting people’s education is one of the things I want to do in games. I want to make something cute, but I also want to create content that has a deeper meaning, connects with people, and inspires me.
“What I often see in common is that the natural environment is really underestimated and I think it contributes to issues such as pollution and climate change, so creating a beautiful natural landscape in my work. Through my art. I want people to understand nature better, “Falk continued. “But it may be a little shallow to have nature always valued for beauty, because there are clearly many important reasons.”
In January 2020, Falck and GLIFWC staff attended the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, Wisconsin, to teach and introduce children to the game. However, due to school Wi-Fi restrictions, it could not be played. Instead, Falck decided to show the students how the game was created and invited them to use the same game engine they used for the program.
“This one girl I remember was probably eight or ten years old and was very excited about making games,” Falck explained. “She said to me,” I hope my friends and I will work on this in the library later today. “I was so happy that I was able to inspire the next generation. I feel great. ”