Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Press Release: Introducing Maawn Doobiigeng - the new classification system of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries

Note from Debbie: In this morning's email, I received the press release I'm sharing below. Librarians across the US are looking for ways to revisit their classification systems because they are learning -- as the press release states in the first paragraph -- that existing classification systems are "damaging to Indigenous people and are insufficient for accurately describing and providing access to Native topics." For more information, go directly to the Maawn Doobiigeng (Gather Together) page. There, you'll see this graphic:


Press Release: The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is pleased to announce the introduction of Maawn Doobiigeng, the new classification system of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries. The three primary systems of classification that were in place – the Dewey Decimal System (DDC), the Library of Congress Classification  System (LCC), and the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) – are inherently damaging to Indigenous people and are insufficient for accurately describing and providing access to Native topics. In 2019, The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries were awarded the IMLS National Leadership Grant to facilitate the creation of a new classification system by members of the community. As of April 2024, this new system, titled Maawn Doobiigeng (Gather Together), has been created and is being implemented into the libraries.

Arionna Crispin, project facilitator mentions, “When I heard about a project that was aiming to decolonize and Indigenize the Tribal Libraries, I knew I had to be a part of it. I learned so much about how harmful the previously utilized classification systems are, and I worked with truly amazing people in the creation of this new system. I’m grateful to have been a part of something so incredible and revolutionary, and I hope this work inspires others to make similar changes.”


The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries were awarded the National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2019 with the purpose of addressing the question: “How can tribal libraries use traditional ways of knowing and being to break free of the colonialist epistemology of existing library organizational systems that reinforce a damaging worldview?”


There were four phases of the grant project. The first phase was to Assess the cataloging and classification systems currently in place through a decolonizing lens. Next, the team had to Create a system of organization for cataloging and classifying library materials according to Anishinaabe ways of knowing and being. This was followed by having the ability to Implement this system to decolonize and indigenize the Tribal Libraries collections. Finally, gathering data to Analyze results and share documentation that outlines how this project was conducted, provided a framework that other libraries could use as a template for decolonizing the knowledge organization of their collections.


Anne Heidemann, tribal librarian shares, “Over the years of doing the work of cataloging and classifying the books and other materials in the Tribal Libraries, it became clear to me that the existing systems weren’t working well for the community I serve, which led me to write the application for the IMLS National Leadership Grant.


Heidemann continues explaining, “The opportunity to turn this work over to the community, to see dedicated community members gather to use their knowledge and experience to create an entirely new-to-libraries classification system, was so exciting and truly an honor. The Tribal Libraries team has now begun the work of reclassifying all the items in the collection, and we look forward to seeing the community enjoy using Maawn Doobiigeng in their libraries.”


A work group of community members was established to create a new system of organization for cataloging and classifying library materials according to Anishinaabe ways of knowing and being. The work group created this new system, Maawn Doobiigeng, based on the seven original clans and their respective responsibilities, as described in the “Mishomis Book” by Edward Benton-Banai, and based on the cultural knowledge of the group members. The clan responsibilities were adapted into subcategories that the committee felt best represent both the clan and the types of knowledge traditionally shared in books and libraries. Careful thought was put into each clan and subcategory, with the understanding that it may need additions or adjustments after implementation. It was important to the committee that the new classification system also double as a teaching tool, with users of the libraries gaining knowledge of the clans and the Anishinaabemowin language.


Please contact Anne Heidemann, Tribal Librarian, at (989) 775-4519 or at aheidemann@sagchip.org for more information on the announcement.        




The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Libraries include the public Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library (SCTL), the preK-5th grade Saginaw Chippewa Academy elementary school library (SCA), and the public two-year community college Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College library (SCTC). For classification, the former two used DDC, the latter used LCC, and all used LCSH, all of which employ colonialist logic to classify and describe items relating to Indigenous people.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. The agency’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 06, 2024


When We Gather (Ostadahlisiha): A Cherokee Tribal Feast 
Written by Andrea L. Rogers (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation)
Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight (Citizen of the Chickasaw Nation)
Published by Heartdrum (HarperCollins)
Pub Year: 2024
Reviewer: Debbie Reese
Status: Highly Recommended

In professional development workshops that I do where I ask people to bring books with Native content, I look over what they've brought. Lots of old -- and not good -- nonfiction (series books and biographies) and fiction. I also see dreadful books by Paul Goble that look like they're Native, but they're not. A better way to describe them is "white man's Indian" which means a white imagining of Native life and culture. 

More and more, in recent years, I see that someone has brought in a terrific book. An example is Jenny Kay Dupuis's I Am Not A Number. A librarian bought that one in last week. Another had Lindstrom and Goade's We Are Water Protectors. And another had Christine Day's biography of Maria Tall Chief. Terrific, for me, is books by Native writers who are writings stories from their own nation(s) and family experiences (like Jenny's), or who give readers a Native point of view on someone who has significance to Native communities (like Christine's), or that are set in the present day (like Carole and Michaela's). 

Due out this week is another that I hope every library will add to their shelves. Of course, I'm talking about Andrea Rogers and Madelyn Goodnight's When We Gather (Ostadahlisiha): A Cherokee Tribal Feast.  

Some things I love:

On the first page we see a luscious green landscape. Why does that matter? When they think "Native" a lot of people imagine deserts or plains. A face: Native people were, and are, everywhere.  

In that lush landscape, a little girl is kneeling by a plant with slender leaves that rise up out of the grass. We'll come to know it is wild onions. The girl and her family set out harvesting them for a gathering at the community center where families have brought beans, grape dumplings stew, corn soup, and catfish for a wild onion dinner. 

I love seeing Native words in books! Just there, just part of the way it is. The clues are all there to know what Agilisi and Agiduda mean. And they're in a modern day house because, yeah, we are still here and it bugs us to have to say those words. Books like this one, though, help make that point. 

Flipping to the author's note, I read that Rogers visited Cherokee homelands in Georgia. She tells us about the forced removal of the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations from the southeastern US. She also tells us about a special place: New Echota, their former capital.  I call attention to "capital" because Americans associate that word with a state, but many do not know that we were, and are, sovereign nations. Rogers used "nation" but using additional words like "capital" help readers get further down that path of knowing what Native sovereignty means. 

Any teacher or librarian that is doing something that is about family gatherings can add this book to that unit or program. And if you've got a way to do so, make some of the food you see in the book! Smith provides four recipes. Dig in!