<Ojibwe Lifeway: Respecting Our Culture (“biboon”-winter)

Connect With Culture

American Marten Photo by Erwin & Peggy Bauer
Learn more about the importance of American marten to the Ojibwe people. Explore and evaluate Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of how climate change may be affecting the sustainability of wildlife species and winter-based cultural practices using the online Menu of Resources or through an experiential learning opportunity.

Use the Connect With Culture Activity Guide to guide your exploration.

Marten (Waabizheshi)

Waabizheshi, the Marten, is a clan animal respected by the Ojibwe people for its hunting prowess, thus it is one of the totem animals representing hunters. The Marten Clan were warriors of the Ojibwe.


Fred Ackley, Sokoagon/Mole Lake Band, is a member of the Marten Clan and describes the symbol as follows:

“That’s what the marten do. They’re in control of combat. They have other issues to do. In the lodge the Marten people sit in the western door. And that’s their job to guard the western door from coming and going. But they have other duties…the marten; he’s a great hunter. They hunt a lot of smaller animals. The marten’s got a lot of courage.”

The marten’s luxuriant fur pelt is also used as part of certain ceremonies in the Lodge.

Menu of Resources

Learn more about the cultural importance of marten to the Ojibwe and the cultural importance of Biboon to the Lake Superior Ojibwe

Engage in some traditional Ojibwe winter activities.

Engage in some traditional Ojibwe winter activities.
Decorative Snow Snakes used in the Ojibwe Games. Credit: UW Madison Photo Librarcy

Play the snow snake game

Play the snow snake game
A traditional Ojibwe winter activity. Photo credit: Minnesota Public Radio.

How climate change is being felt across “Native North America?”

How climate change is being felt across “Native North America?”
The Alaskan Village of Shishmaref is one of many Native Alaskan communites losing their homes due to erosion. Photo credit: Indian County Today Media

Investigate place-based evidence of climate change on wildlife and winter cultural practices

Design Your Own Place-based Experience

Interview a GLIFWC or Wisconsin DNR wildlife researcher about their observations on how a warming climate is affecting wildlife such as the American marten.

Interview a tribal elder or family member about their experiences and activities during the winter months. Ask them to share their observations and perspectives on how winter might be changing. How have these changes affected their winter activities?

Interview someone whose business relies on snowy winter months, for example a snowmobile dealer, a trapper, a logger, a snowplow driver, a cross-country or ski business owner. Ask them about why winter is important to them and what changes they have noticed in the climate during winter months. How have these changes affected their businesses? What changes in winter climate have you observed?