By Dan Gunderson
White Earth Tribal Chair Erma Vizenor, one of the singers at the service, said it's critical to keep the Ojibwe language alive.
"This is one way we can keep it," she said. "We can use it, we can share it, we can build community with it."
Vizenor grew up with Ojibwe hymn singing and traditional spiritual practices. She remembers neighbors gathering in her grandparents' tiny two-room home to sing, and her grandparents explaining traditional ceremonies.
Although Christian clergy tried to end traditional Indian spiritual practices, Vizenor said, the native-language hymns the church brought the reservation have become part of the complex Ojibwe culture.