Gdenwémgenanëk Yajdanawa Project

Gdenwémgenanëk Yajdanawa means “our relatives tell it” in Bodwéwadmimwen. THPO and Language & Culture staff worked together to develop a title for the project that centered Neshnabék cultural and historical knowledge, specifically Neshnabék oral traditions and family/community stories. Oral history and oral tradition are terms used to describe how people pass down personal accounts of historical events and family/community stories from generation to generation. Oral history focuses on documenting the interviewee’s first-hand encounters and experiences, while oral tradition addresses various ways of knowing and “doing” or documenting history. Oral tradition may include family stories, place-based stories, traditional stories or memories of cultural values and lifeways. One contemporary option to maintain and/or share these memories and stories is by recording them through an interview process.

The Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) is excited to announce the launch of the Gdenwémgenanëk Yajdanawa Project. The project is modeled off of the University of North Carolina – Wilson Library’s “Archivist in a Backpack” program. The THPO has put together 5 (five) Archivist in a Backpack kits available for check out as a means to assist Tribal Citizens conduct and record oral history interviews. THPO staff is able to provide assistance to Tribal Citizens who are conducting the interview. Also, THPO staff is able to conduct interviews of Tribal Citizens on an appointment basis. For any questions regarding the Gdenwémgenanëk Yajdanawa Project, scheduling an oral history interview, or checking out an Archivist in a Backpack kit, please contact Lisa Martin, Section 106/Research Specialist, at 269-397-1790 or

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have created materials and resources for the Gdenwémgenanëk Yajdanawa Project that you may have available at home to virtually conduct interviews. The following downloadable resources can be found in each backpack:

Chicago Field Museum Exhibit

As part of the ongoing renovations for the Field Museum's Native North American Hall, part of the larger exhibit will include a permanent structure titled "Native Truths". Gun Lake Tribe will co-curate with Field Museum staff a section of this exhibit entitled "Native Truth 3 - No matter what, we are deeply connected to where we come from", which explores Native communities' relaationships to land and place. This would be one of four displays in this particular section. Tribal Council has identified a workgroup to serve as a liaison between the Tribe and the Museum. The workgroup will provide updates and conduct community outreach as the project progresses. 

The opening of new Native North American Hall was postponed due to COVID-19 impacts and is currently slated to open in spring 2022. Read more about the Field Museum's ongoing renovation of the Native North American Hall here>>

Workgroup Members: 

  • Frank Barker (Gun Lake Tribe)
  • Junsun Bush (Gun Lake Tribe)
  • Melissa Brown (Gun Lake Tribe)
  • Phyllis Davis (Gun Lake Tribe)
  • Lakota Pochedley (Citizen Potawatomi Nation)