The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is a federally recognized Indian
tribe located on the L’Anse Indian Reservation in Baraga County, Michigan.
To date, no nutrition screening or other health assessments have been
conducted on any of the early childhood programs on the reservation. The
Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College carried out this project to
utilize traditional Ojibwa teachings to change the eating habits of children
through their families, daycare providers, and to develop an early childhood
The project goals include:
The project developed nutrition surveys for families of children ages 0-4
years. Distribution of the surveys proved difficult since tribal operations do
not have mailing lists for these children. Assessment forms were distributed
through childcare centers, a youth center and faculty, staff, and students of
the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. Survey results show that
most families ate three meals and two snacks per day, ate candy four to five
times a week, and ate very little traditional Ojibwa food. Families in the
study exercised one to two times per week.
- Documenting the prevalence of health diseases and obesity among
- Reducing the incidence of chronic health diseases
- Creating programs that integrate Ojibwa culture to enhance
learning that in turn would bring about healthy lifestyle changes.
A database of menus used at childcare centers was created to determine
nutrient content and consumption of traditional Ojibwa foods. The Food
Guide Pyramid was used in developing the menus, which rotated on a 6-week
basis. Traditional foods were served infrequently. The research found that
eating took up a major portion of the childcare day, with breakfast served at 9
am, snack at 10:30 am, lunch at 12 noon, and a snack at 2 pm, with the children
going home at 3 pm. The project distributed Ojibwa recipe books to
encourage use of traditional foods in menu planning. Barriers to increased use
of traditional food included seasonality and cost.
An Ojibwa spiritual leader taught Ojibwa children at a reservation childcare
center about nutrition, plants, and other culturally relevant topics targeted to a
school-age audience. This activity resulted in the development of a new 4-
credit course at the Community College on Fundamentals of Human
Nutrition. The course incorporates both contemporary nutritional and traditional
Ojibwa information to reduce chronic health diseases.
To encourage the preparation of traditional Ojibwa foods as a healthier alternative
to current diets, the Ojibwa Recipe Book developed through the project
is being made available to the parents who completed the nutrition surveys.
However, since many families rely on commodity foods or food stamps,
financial limitations may make it difficult to change eating behaviors. The
nutrition project will be integrated with the Community College website to
increase access to study findings and the Ojibwa Recipe Book.