Reviving Ojibwe Spiritual Traditions, One Pet At A Time

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CASS LAKE, Minnesota (AP) – Several members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota are working to address animal neglect on their tribal lands – and in doing so bringing their community closer to its spiritual roots.

Kids are helping their elders in animal rescues, pet food and supplies are routinely distributed in the community and the first permanent veterinary clinic is one final permit away from breaking ground.

Animals are central to Ojibwe beliefs and sacred origin stories.

So promoting pet care reinforces the Creator’s intentions for harmony between humans and animals – a value that some say faded over the years.

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Leech Lake Legacy volunteers Cindy Ojczyk, left, and Engress Clark unload a kennel with some of the kittens that were abandoned in Cass Lake, Minn., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Fifteen kittens were found in a plastic tote left in the local Walmart parking lot and were brought to the Legacy’s clinic. For a decade, the nonprofit has been bringing veterinary services and taking away surrendered animals on the Leech Lake Reservation. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)

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Rick Haaland of Bena, Minn., poses for a portrait on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Haaland is the Community Outreach Manager for the Leech Lake Tribal Police. He and his fellow Ojibwe community members have been leading efforts to care for animals, something centrally important to Native American spiritual beliefs and traditions. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)

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