Linda Grover: Native women held in high regard
"The Ojibwe word for woman is “ikwe” (ih-KWAY); the word for girl is “kwesens” (kway-ZAYNSS).

In Ojibwe, adding a vowel and “ns” to the end of a noun implies that it is small and precious. Kwesens is a small and precious woman. In the ways of our grandparents, which are the ways we try to keep today, we know that a little girl, a kwesens, will one day be a woman, an ikwe.

She is of the sex that will carry and bring new life into the world.

Because of this, women of all ages are regarded with honor. We are the physical anchor and spiritual link between past and present, and between present and future.

A teenage Ojibwe ikwe is an oshinikwe (osh-KINny kway), a “new woman.” In the days that I was, myself, an oshinikwe, I was a student at Denfeld High School, the first of the 14 LeGarde children. If you attended Denfeld anytime between 1965 and 1988, you went to school with one of the LeGardes."

Get the Story:
Linda LeGarde Grover: Native women are regarded with honor (The Duluth Budgeteer News 7/10)

Related Stories:
Linda Grover: Passing on the Ojibwe language (3/21)