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Margaret Noodin, Professor

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Advanced Smite:
As I've been working on expanded genealogy for this thread, I continue to come across interesting quotes from Margaret Noodin. This particular quote seems especially relevant and unbelievably ironic. The video has been recorded and saved offline should it ever be removed from YouTube.

YouTube: CRG Fall 2019 Distinguished Guest Lecture - UC Berkeley Events
Direct Link:

--- Quote ---Transcription begins at 1:10:24.

Audience Member: I'm curious to know, because I know that you have a website where you have some posted songs and poetry and it's like an accessible way to learn some Anishinaabemowin, and I'm wondering how you feel about people who are not Anishinaabe learning the language. Because I know that this is something that, like, everybody I ask I get a different opinion on. I think that there's definitely some people who are afraid of people from outside of the culture learning it and using it as a way to have ammunition against the culture or make fun of the culture in some way. So, I'm just wondering how you've reckoned with that in your own work since your own work does make it very accessible.

Margaret Noodin: Right. Yeah. Well, two things. One is, us Ojibwe, we totally have just, I mean, been out there with it all the time. it was a lingua franca kind-of in our area. So, that's why you have everything from the Hudson Bay down to the Bay of New Orleans, you know the Mississippi, and all these names that are coming from Ojibwe people. Naming things to the extent that in our own region we called the Ho-Chunk the Winnebago. And they got called that for years till they took back their own name, Ho-chungra. And the Menominee, the Mamaceqtaw, still haven't. They still get called the Menominee ‘cause we called them in the Menominee. You know? And so, I think that you have some culture groups that their role in a ge- - you know- - geopolitical area is one of just telling- - you know- - being the translators, being the talkers, being the guides, - -all the time- - being the traders. So, there's that.

So, on one hand Ojibwe language has been so documented for so many years that that ship has really sailed no matter what anybody says. I mean- - they might think we're gonna- - um-mm- - it's impossible at this point. The other thing is I think that it comes from not knowing it well. Like I have no idea why I would care if anybody knew. I would just be delighted. I'd have one more person to argue with. And like, bring it on. Go ahead. Learn my language! Please! I would love it, right? I mean- - why would I not want that? Why would I not want- - I mean- - everybody to just know it? Right? To me, if we know our own language, well, we have nothing to fear from other people learning it. It's only when we don't feel we have access to it, or we don't have it, that we get really afraid. And- - and say “Don't. Don't do that.”

So, in our state the Menominee- - and there's just one Menominee nation- - they were once terminated by the federal government. Their dictionary is on lockdown. I mean- - they work with one scholar from Madison, and they have a password-protected website. And, I think, until enough Menominee feel confident and comfortable and able to defend their language they just don't want other people learning it as much. And that's their right. I totally respect that. And we have some students in our teacher training program now that do Menominee and at the little school that I partner with we have a Menominee class of kids. And so, in Milwaukee we've got some folks learning it. We've got folks up on the rez. But it isn't one that I would build a great big website, like mine, for- - because it is one that they're little- - it's just more fragile. Ojibwe is in no way fragile <laughs> anymore- - I mean, there are things that I wouldn't put on there. There's all kinds of songs and all sorts of things that I wouldn't put on the website but there's also just so much that we can put there.

So, I hope we've gotten enough people using it or at least through my example we show that we definitely- - we- - we know our language. Go learn it. We'd love to have more people using it. And again- - in Milwaukee where I teach my first-year class, it's about half and half, native and non-native. I mean- - I teach a class at a big public university. What am I gonna say? You- -half of you- - can't learn it. Heck no! I feel like if we would’ve done the right thing we would've told Nicolet to start using it when he landed in Green Bay, you know? <laughs> It's like we'd all be speaking Ojibwe now. I'd be a professor in the Department of Ojibwe and English would be the foreign language. Like, you know? <laughs> Right? I mean it could be that way.

So, I think that's- - that's part of it. Where we all just have to- - think about what it means when we use it. And there's times where we know there's some things we wouldn't put on a big public site. But everything that we put on there is- - is- - we put it there knowing people might find it, and teach with it, and use it, and learn. And that's great. So- - so, yeah, anything found on there people can do- - you know, they always usually email us. And we get- - we've had a guy do an opera in Paris. We've had people put it- - a lot of indigenous folks use it in their classrooms. So, that's good.
--- End quote ---

Advanced Smite:
This video from the 2009 Upper Peninsula Indian Education Conference was uploaded 7 months ago. Margaret makes an incredibly specific claim about her great-grandmother being a fluent speaker of the Ojibwe language. She even says that her great-grandmother was afraid to have her kids (Margaret's grandmother) learn the language.

YouTube: 2009 Upper Peninsula Indian Education Conference - Center for Native American Studies, Northern Michigan University
Direct Link:

--- Quote ---Transcription starts at 12:47.

Margaret Noodin: "I've had probably 20 or 30 different teachers in my life that I've been honored to know and spend time with and it's great to see many of them here, but the one thing that they all had in common is that their children did not speak the language. And that was something that after a while - I would learn - they would get to a point in class where we would talk about when they were learning the language and then they would talk about when they were parents. And often it was very emotional for them to share the fact that their own education had made them want to not necessarily pass that language on they would say. Many different teachers have told me “when I went to school knowing the language was bad so when my kids went to school I wanted them to really-really know English, but I wish I had taught them Anishinaabemowin.” Because when you see now in our world we know to know more than one language is great. But that's something that many Elders in my family - -we were talking about in class - - in my family, the last person that spoke the language with fluency was my great-grandmother (unintelligible Anishinaabemowin) and-and, you know, that’s a sad thing that our family for two generations it stopped because she was afraid to have her kids learn it."
--- End quote ---

This is contradicted by what we know about Margaret's great-grandmother, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Pearl (Myers) Hill. We know that Lizzie lived with her well-documented French-Canadian mother, Agnes Lagrenade, and self-reported father, John Henry Myers. There are solid records placing Lizzie with Agnes Lagrenade and John Henry Myers at the age of 3 years old and beyond. If we give Margaret the benefit of the doubt that a man other than John Henry Myers was Lizzie's father, despite the abundant evidence in this thread that Margaret is not an especially truthful person, that man would have been out of her life by the age of 2 years old. Lizzie is not documented as living in an Ojibwe community or even with an Ojibwe person at any point in time. Lizzie didn't even live anywhere near the Ojibwe until she was 28 years old. How could she have become a fluent speaker? The answer is she couldn't be a fluent speaker and she wasn't a fluent speaker of the Ojibwe language. Lizzie was not Ojibwe. Margaret is not Ojibwe.

Why would Margaret, an alleged Ojibwe expert, not recognize that historical and geographical miracles would be necessary to place an Ojibwe man with Agnes Lagrenade on the East Coast (United States/Canada) in 1883/1884 to conceive Lizzie? The truth is that Margaret's family tree only has one branch that didn’t immigrate from Europe in the 1800s AND has less robust documentation overall – both of which are necessary to create an opening to insert a fictious Ojibwe ancestor. In fact, Margaret’s family is so well-documented that there is only one area of her family tree where an ancestor could potentially be reimagined as Native American. The catch? It requires that John Henry Myers not be the biological father of Elizabeth Pearl Myers. Even if John Henry Myers was not Lizzie's biological father, we would need to ignore history and geography to think that man was anything other than white.

Advanced Smite:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about Margaret Noodin's questionable claims of Native American ancestry. It's a well written article and it seems like the authors did their due diligence. I'm incredibly impressed by the people interviewed that spoke out under their real names and the person that brought this story to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's attention.

"Indigenous or pretender? Questions raised about UW-Milwaukee professor who led Native studies institute"
Kelly Meyerhofer, Sarah Volpenhein, and Frank Vaisvilas - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 5:15 a.m. CT Oct. 31, 2023 - Updated 10:02 a.m. CT Oct. 31, 2023

Advanced Smite:
This thread contains many quotes from Margaret Noodin speaking at a 2010 Ann Arbor Library event. Only a transcript of the event was available online until today. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained the video and posted it.

Margaret Noodin speaks in 2010 at Ann Arbor library event.
Margaret Noodin speaks in 2010 at Ann Arbor library event. Around the 2:45 minute mark, she says she has "relatives" enrolled in the "Minnesota Chippewa from Grand Portage area" tribe. Video courtesy of Jennifer Bennett.

I'm not able to read the article. It requires a subscription. Can u post the article?



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