Mission Statement

The Nokomis Native American Cultural Learning Center is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the history, Arts, and culture of the Anishinaabe people – the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations. The Center fulfills this mission through programs, exhibitions and special events.

Program Information

The Nokomis Learning Center provides a variety of programs for groups of all ages as well as maintaining general open hours for individual visitors. On average the Center provides 275 tour programs a year to groups ranging in size from 15 to 120 people and larger for site visits. While most programs are provided for visitors to the Center, the educational staff also conducts numerous outreach programs throughout lower Michigan. As part of the Center’s mission, numerous special projects, publications and exhibitions have been created. Some examples of these are listed below.

Core Programs:

Curriculum and Presentation Offerings at Nokomis Learning Center

“Anishnaabemdaa”- Let’s speak the language. Wednesday nights the center is open for language class from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. This is based on donations and is open to the public. Our elders teach and converse in the original language.

Trade and Commerce of the Ottawa, Potawatomi and Ojibwa of North America:
This program is an overview of the extensive part trade played in the lives of the early Americans. The pros and cons of how trade both helped and tore apart the early native communities, what was used in trade, and how this system set the stage for our present day approach is presented. This presentation is for 7th grade to adult. We can adjust this to fit your time restraints, but suggest a full hour to overview the topic.

The French Fur Trade of North America:
This is an amazing presentation by Randy Miller of Round Wolf Primitives. He has an extensive background in early North America trading and its origins with the French. Lectures and demonstrations can range from one half hour to 1 hour presentations. This can be tailored to fit your lesson plan and age of students. Mr. Miller travels from Mulliken, Michigan to present at our center so reserving him in advance is required. Second grade to adult.

Elementary Presentation of Trade in Early North America:
This is a presentation for elementary school children. Its focus is on basic, easy to understand concepts with an emphasis on interactive learning. This age appropriate teaching will stimulate and fascinate your children while exposing them to historical facts about trade and commerce! This can also be adapted to your time restraints, One half hour or more is suggested. Elementary geared teaching.

Agriculture of the Anishinaabe of North America:
An overview of tribal farming concepts. What was cultivated in the past, regionally grown and how it developed into present day gardening will be presented. Gathering from the woods will also be explained in this presentation and interactive teaching experience. This is age appropriate from 2nd grade to adult. 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour presentations are suggested.

The Migration Story of the Ottawa, Potawatomi and Ojibwa Three Fires of North America:
Opinions may differ, and rightfully so, about some of the facts concerning this journey. We will teach and explain what has been passed down to us as accurately as possible concerning the major stopping places and how the tribes remaining today came to call Michigan and Canada, their home. Middle school children thru adult. It is suggested that middle school children be introduced in their classrooms a basic history lesson on Native Americans living in Michigan and the Canadian shores of Lake Superior prior to coming to the center. At least 45 minutes is suggested for this presentation.

The Seven Prophecies of the Anishinaabe Nations:
Did you know that there are regional prophecies of North America? Come to our center and see how the Seventh Fire or Seventh Prophecy can be affecting your lives. These were given to the Anishinaabe by seven prophets predicting what their future would hold for them. These teachings are sacred. We are proud to share this with you if you are interested in learning. Middle school thru adult only. Discussions surrounding this teaching can lengthen the time frames, so call for details.

The Elders Speak:
Our elders hold much wisdom and carry the history of experience from their lives. By listening to them and honoring them, we learn many wonderful and sacred lessons. They come from both Canada and Michigan Three Fires Tribes. Schedule a time with us to assemble a group to sit and listen to our most valuable teachers. This is based always around our elders’ availability and can be geared around your lesson plans if you tell us your subject interest and goals. All ages.

What roles do our Animal Brothers and Sisters play in Anishinaabe Culture?
This is a teaching that touches upon the old relationship we had with all other life forms in the sacred circle of life. You may have a story to tell too, that stands out of the ordinary. This opens the mind to realizing the relationship we may have with nature and her role in our lives and what may have been lost as society developed its technology and industrial ways. This can be related in an age appropriate way to young children. In fact, young children may innately understand this sacred teaching! All ages.

Making Regalia!
An overview of what the “Three Fires People” may wear in ceremony and dance. This is based on availability of our elders and people who can share this knowledge. Some classes may include a demonstration of how regalia can be made.

The Spiritual Walk of the Anishinaabe:
An overview of the influence European religions had historically on the Anishinaabe of North America. We touch upon original beliefs and explain some of the relationships that still exist today. This potentially can have numerous speakers involved and is held sacred, so certain traditions will be honored and held up in the old way. Call if you are interested and a teaching can be shared.

The Grandfather Teachings:
These are based on honored virtues to be developed in every human being. If mankind embraced “The Grandfather Teachings” we would solve many conflicts in this world. Come to our center and learn the sacred teachings, which give you a good life and good heart on this journey we share on Mother Earth. All ages can benefit from this sharing. Discussions can develop from this presentation, but we can be time sensitive to your group. All ages.

The Medicine Wheel Teachings:
Sacred circles, sacred lives. Come learn the many layers of symbolism and meaning of the Medicine Wheel. This is an ancient teaching tool explaining many cycles alive on our planet. Variations will occur based on the regional teachings of your area. A bracelet can be made with this presentation to represent what you have learned. The bracelet is suggested for children as an interactive experience, but can be done by adults as well. This also can stimulate lively discussions, but we suggest at least one half hour or more to fully explain its meanings. Elementary to adult.

Stories and Legends:
An interactive experience with one of our storytellers. Storytelling has a high position in the culture of the Anishinaabek. The tales and legends have within them lessons and history capable of touching the hearts and mind of all who come to listen. Bring your group in for a tale of cultural fascination, passed down to us in the traditional way from our elders! Elementary to adult.

The Native Drum, Flute and Dance:
We are in the process of developing this class. We are gathering our brothers and sisters to help us share this with the public. Music and dance is an integral part of the culture and holds great meaning to all Native Americans.

Education Resources

Educator Memberships:
Educators may purchase memberships to Nokomis Learning Center for the special discounted rate of $20.00. Membership includes our quarterly newsletter to keep you updated on Nokomis happenings and offerings, invitations to special events, and 10% off gift shop purchases and building rentals. In addition, the educator membership also entitles the member to special offers on educational materials.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Nokomis Learning Center download the Membership Form and fill it out. Drop it in the nearest mailbox or bring it with you to one of our many events!

Gift Shop Items of Interest to Educators:
There are many items in our gift shop designed to be useful for educators and students of all ages. We have books, instructional materials, visual aides, and much more, all of which are a perfect fit in any classroom or home learning library.

Please visit our gift shop to browse and purchase these items.

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Becoming A Member

The Nokomis Learning Center’s Annual Membership can be downloaded and printed. Drop it in the nearest mailbox or bring it with you to one of our many events!

You are Invited to Become a Member
Become a friend of the Nokomis Learning Center and discover the exciting culture of the Native American peoples who have lived in the Great Lakes region for thousands of years!

Your membership will help support the Center’s mission and better serve the thousands of school children who visit our facility annually. Each year schools, scouting groups and individual visitors enjoy a “hands-on” learning experience with knowledgeable members of our staff and volunteers.

Since its founding in 1988, Nokomis has hosted numerous exhibitions and educational programs, published several books, and been a model for many other institutions around the nation. We invite you to become a part of our efforts to promote Michigan’s rich Native American heritage.

Benefits of Membership Include:

  • Our Quarterly Newsletter
  • Invitations to Special Events and Educational Programs
  • Special Offers on Educational Materials for Student & Educator Members
  • 10% Off Gift Shop Purchases and Facility Rentals

Miigwech (Thank you!)

Download the Membership Form.

Call for Volunteers

The Nokomis Learning Center truly appreciates volunteers who can offer their time and talents to furthering the mission of the Center.

There are many activities for volunteers to participate in at Nokomis including:

  • Gardening
  • Assisting with Special Events
  • Filing/Clerical Work
  • Grant Writing
  • Artifact Inventory

If you or anyone you know may be interested in becoming a volunteer at Nokomis Please feel free to stop in and discuss how we can work together to build a stronger community or download and mail in our Volunteer Form.

Board Members 2018

Aarin Dokum (Interim 2018 President)
Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve

Vice President

Jenny Rentfrow (Term Expires 2018)

Liz Gorecki (Term Expires 2018)

Honorary Members
Rose DeLand

Alphonse Pitawanakwat (Term Expires 2020)
Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve

Mary Mireles (Term Expires 2020)

Brian Moore (Term Expires 2020)
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

John Ostrander (Term Expires 2020)

Jeff Sprague (Term Expires 2018)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe

Jim Sumbler (Term Expires 2020)

Kathy Yates (Term Expires 2019)

5153 Marsh Rd. | Okemos, MI 48864-1198
Phone: 517-349-5777
Email: info@nokomis.org

Hours: Monday & Wednesday from 12:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.
Other Times by Appointment