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Back to school: '91 grad Victoria Wind returns to Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig as new elementary principal

Victoria Wind will serve as the elementary principal, as well as lead the Ojibwe language program Niigaane, at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)

BENA—Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School's newest leader has been there before.

Victoria Wind graduated from the school in 1991 and, after teaching and learning across North Dakota and Montana, will head its elementary school and Niigaane, its Ojibwemowin immersion program.

"The Bugonaygeshig School has always held a special place in my heart," Wind said. "For me, this means new learning experiences, one where I am able to hear the Ojibwe language,

learn to speak more Ojibwe language, and see our cultural traditions being taught to the students."

Wind and her husband, Donovan, another '91 "Bug school" graduate, drove by the school on a visit to some friends in the area, she said, and she applied for the job on a whim.

"Coming back to this area, it was just a heartwarming feeling," Wind told the Pioneer. "Especially when I was able to hear some of the language, some of the elders and some of the people using the Ojibwe language...It was just kind of like that hook for me."

And that language is one thing she'll try to promote at her new post. Wind's already helped staff hire a secondary school-level Ojibwemowin teacher at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, which means more language instruction time for elementary students there, who used to share an instructor with older students but now will have one all to themselves.

Wind said she's also aiming to add more Ojibwemowin instruction for students who aren't already in the immersion program and include more work by indigenous authors to promote indigenous literacy.

An enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, Wind grew up on the White Earth reservation and went to Mahnomen High School before she headed to Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig for her senior year of high school.

"My experience being a high school student here was welcoming, and I'm seeing that same interaction with the staff from being part of the staff," Wind said. "And I hope that I'll be able to provide experiences for our students coming in, the same experiences that I had when I was in school here. Very positive and very supportive."

She earned her bachelor's degree at Mayville State University in North Dakota and her master's degree from Montana State University. Wind has taught at schools, including Bureau of Indian Education ones such as Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, that were predominantly American Indian.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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