Speaking of Ourselves

Ni-mi-kwa-zoo-min (Cass Lake, Minn.) 1974-1977 Browse the title

Speaking of ourselves (Cass Lake, Minn.) 1977-1997 Browse the title

Ni-mi-kwa-zoo-min, later Speaking of Ourselves = Ni-mah-mi-kwa-zoo-min, was the official newspaper of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from 1974-1997. It was a monthly publication headquartered in Cass Lake, Minnesota, that primarily served the nearby Leech Lake Reservation. Established by the 1855 Treaty of Washington and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, Leech Lake is the second largest reservation in Minnesota and is located on Chippewa National Forest lands. 

As the primary Indigenous newspaper for Leech Lake, Speaking of Ourselves contained information on tribal legislation, elections, infrastructure projects, upcoming events, education, and more. Some issues include separately paged and numbered reservation news sections. Significant also is its inclusion of original art and poetry by members of its communities. Additionally, like many local newspapers, Speaking of Ourselves often reprinted articles and stories from other publications. David Beaulieu’s occasional column, “Curly Hair and Big Feet: Physical Anthropology and the Implementation of Land Allotment on the White Earth Reservation,” was one such story. It appeared in a variety of popular Indigenous publications, and recounted the relationship between the field of anthropology and the representation of Indigenous peoples. Beaulieu describes the column as “an attempt to describe an unusual, little known, but important aspect of the development and implementation of public policy toward American Indians…” (Speaking of Ourselves, February 1, 1991). Speaking of Ourselves often featured pieces, like Beaulieu’s, that forefronted the strength of Indigenous scholarship.

Speaking of Ourselves main editor, Betty Blue, was a unique and distinctive character in Cass Lake. Born Elizabeth Ann Twining in 1920, Betty Blue had an illustrious career in journalism and worked for a variety of radio and television stations, including Palm Beach Daily News, the Milwaukee Sentinel, and the Mobridge Tribune. During this time, Blue conducted interviews with many notable figures, and was most proud of her work with Kathryn Hepburn and Eleanor Roosevelt. Blue eventually settled in Duluth, Minnesota, and served as the editor for both Speaking of Ourselves and De-Bah-Ji-Mon, another prominent tribal publication.