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Connecting Ojibwe Ecological Knowledge and Climate Change in the Apostle Islands

Using The Minisan Website

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Select an Apostle Island Ecosystem. On the website's front-page map, click on a red "hot spot" and open a portal to one of the twelve ecosystems found within the Apostle Islands. Or go to the "Ecosystems" tab and select an ecosystem from the drop-down menu.

Get Oriented. Once you have navigated to an ecosystem, listen to the Ojibwe name for the island location where this ecosystem can be found. Close the location box to explore a 360-degree panoramic view of this ecosystem.

Open An Ecosystem Story. Look for five symbols embedded in beadwork banner at the bottom of each ecosystem panorama. They represent the Ojibwe four orders of creation: the physical, plant, animal, and human world; plus a fifth symbol called "Consider This.". The Ojibwe people acknowledge the spirit world within each of the four orders of creation. The beadwork pattern reminds us that each order is connected to the others. There is reciprocity among them because each are considered gifts that both give and take.

These symbols open to share stories of how climate change is affecting the ecosystem based on Ojibwe ecological knowledge and academic scientific ecological knowledge. Explore the photo gallery, video and audio links for supporting resources. Words in Ojibwemowin (the Ojibwe language) are shown in bold. There is a glossary of Ojibwemowin used in this website in the website's Resources.

Physical Icon

This symbol opens stories of the Physical Order

Physical Order

According to Ojibwe teachings, the Creator made the physical world first, including the asiniig (rocks); anangoog (stars); giizhig (sky), nibi (water); and noodin (wind), gimiwan (rain), and goon (snow). They work together and create a variety of habitats where plants, animals, and people can survive. Because the physical world has been in existence longer than the other orders, it has much to teach us. This section shares stories of how climate change is affecting the physical world in each ecosystem.

Plants Icon

This Symbol opens stories of the Plant Order

Plant Order

Some Ojibwe people refer to the Wenaboozhoo Minisan (Apostle Islands) and Gichigami Anishinaabeg Endaawaad (Lake Superior) as a gitigaan (garden). Many types of trees and plants grow here. The plant world, working together with the physical world, creates habitats. Habitats are places that provide food, shelter, and protection for other plants, animals, and people. Plants are alive and have much to teach us. This section shares stories of how climate change is affecting plants who make these ecosystems their home.

Animals Icon

This Symbol opens stories of the Animal Order

Animal Order

The Apostle Islands are home to many kinds of animals including four-leggeds, swimmers, flyers, and crawlers. The animal world relies on habitats created by the physical and plant world for food, shelter, protection, and places to raise young. Animals have much to teach us. This section shares stories of how climate change is affecting animals who make these ecosystems their home.

Humans Icon

This Symbol opens stories of the Human Order

Human Order

It is said that the Creator instructed the Ojibwe people to take care of plants and animals because they take care of us. Instead of seeing these beings as "natural resources" to be managed, the Ojibwe consider them to be teachers and relatives. They give themselves to provide us with food and shelter. They nourish our spirits with their beauty. We call them "beings" to respect this relationship.

This section explores how climate change is affecting the Ojibwe people and others who come to the Apostle Islands.

Take Action! Take Action! links offer activities you can do to reduce climate impacts and restore relationships with the land, and plant and animal beings.

Consider This Icon

This Symbol opens a challenge!

Consider This!

Consider what climate change teaches us about respect for the land and its beings. This section will challenge your thinking!

Climate Map Info Popup

CLIMATE MAPS: Climate maps used in the Minisan website provide "academic" or scientific ecological knowledge of historic and projected changes in temperature, extreme heat, and rainfall events for Wisconsin. These climate variables affect the sustainability of ecosystems and the beings that live there.

Climate maps are based on research by Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI). Historic climate maps show changes in climate variables that have occurred from 1950-2018. Climate projections maps show changes that are expected by midcentury (2041-2060) based on climate modeling. The models are based on the RCP45 climate "scenario." This scenario gives projections of how climate variables may change based on a future where we use fossil fuels and alternative energy at approximately the same rate as today. More historic and projected climate maps can be found here.