Wicoie Nandagikendan Staff


Betty Jane Memegwesiikwe Schaaf

Betty Jane Schaaf grew up in the Leech Lake area and is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Betty Jane has received her degree in early childhood from Fon du lac Tribal College and also attended the University of Minnesota. Betty Jane has lived and worked in the Twin Cities Native American early childhood community for the past 16 years. As a member of the Native American Leaders Circle, Betty Jane is a founding mother of the Wicoie Nandagikendan Preschool Language Immersion Program and is currently serving as the Interim Program Manager. Some of Betty Jane’s other activities include being involved with MNTrecc Planning Team and Metro Work Group, Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Minnesota Children Theater and also is a board member for the Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Networking.



Shirley Yeoman

Shirley Yeoman has been the Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals’ bookkeeper since 2004. She has a B.S.Ed. from Greenville (IL) College and has completed Master’s level coursework in the area of Management from St. Mary’s College of Minnesota. Shirley has over 30 years of non-profit work experience. She is also currently employed as the Neighborhood Coordinator/Administrator for the Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association in south Minneapolis.




Kim Beaulieau

Kimberly is originally from Cass Lake, MN and is an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She has lived in Minneapolis for the past 15 years. Kim has studied Ojibwe at Leech Lake Tribal College & the University of Minnesota. Still only at the very beginning stages of learning Ojibwe, Kim looks forward to working with parents in their journey to learn Ojibwe with their children.

Kim has two young children that were students in the program back in the 2009-2010 school year, Jonathan & Neveah. Jonathan & Neveah are now in the 1st grade and are both excelling in school due in large part to their Ojibwe immersion education at Anishinabe Academy.



Jennifer Bendickson

Jennifer Bendickson is from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.  She is one of the Native American Leadership Circle members and helped in the formation of the Wicoie Nandagikendan Immersion  Project.  Jennifer was also the coordinator for the Dakota Ojibwe Language Alliance and worked with Margaret Boyer on some of the early Legislative efforts to secure funding for immersion in the state of Minnesota. She is married with four grown sons who reside in the metro area.  Her favorite things to do include sketching, playing cards or scabble, and spending time with her 12 grandchildren.  Jennifer has always wanted young preschool native children to have the opportunity to learn their language.  She hopes someday that all native children in Minnesota will learn their language.



Lillian Rice

I am Potawatamie and Ojibwe from Wisconsin.  There are four of us left that I know of who are Potawatamie first language speakers. Having had an Ojibwe grandmother who spoke the language, I learned Ojibwe as a child.  I am Nigig (Otter) clan. I started in the classroom January 28th, 2004, and have been there ever since.  In the beginning, we came together in talking circles in order to revitalize the language.  We started coming up with ideas to put it together, talking to the people and asking them what they wanted.  This is how Wicoie Nandagikendan started.  I  trained at Hazelden and worked for many years in chemical dependency.  My interest has been in working with Native women and their children.  When I was young, I did not know how the language would help me in my older years.  I am often called to serve Native communities in many ways- helping with naming ceremonies, funerals, prayers and language revitalization.  I enjoy making moccasins, berry picking, doing wild rice and being with the children.


Barbara Hanska



Laura Biiwaabik Pederson

Laura Pederson is a Leech Lake enrollee and was hired by Wicoie Nandagikendan in September 2009, working in the Ojibwe immersion High Five classroom.  After completing her Bachelor studies at the University of Illinois, she began studying Ojibwe, completing an Associates Degree in American Indian Studies with an Ojibwe emphasis at Rainy River, and has since attended various language tables within Minnesota.  Currently she is pursuing a Master’s in Education through the University of St. Thomas.  Her spare time is spent outdoors hiking and biking.  Her interests include traveling, photography, and furthering her understanding of Ojibwe.




Cassandra Meyer

Cassandra Meyer has worked for the Wicoie Nandagikendan in the Dakota High-5 classroom at Anishinabe Academy since September 2008. She first started learning Dakota in a classroom setting when she was 16, having attended language tables in both Minneapolis and Mendota for a year prior. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, with an Environmental focus and American Indian Studies, with a Dakota Language focus. She is also nearing completion of her Master’s degree in Sustainable Design. Outside of work, Cassandra enjoys being nerdy, researching/learning new things, reading, watching movies, traveling, camping, swimming, photography and snuggling with her cat.



Hope Flanagan

Aaniin! Hope Flanagan zhaaganaazhimowin igaye Noodinesikwe Anishinaabewiinikaazowin, Naadawe-awi dash.  Mikinok indoodem.  Tonawanda ishkoniganing indoonjibaa.
Hope currently works as an Ojibwe immersion classroom teacher at the Four Directions/Family Partnership Program with Lillian Rice the classroom elder. Their students are from 16 months to 5 years old.  She has been working for Wicoie Nandagikendan since August 2009.  Prior to working there, she was the Storyteller/Alcohol,Tobacco and Other Drugs Prevention Specialist at Anishinabe Academy for six years.  Hope has also been the Curriculum Coordinator for the Golden Eagles Youth Program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center and the Youth Leadership Development Program Coordinator at the Division of Indian Work. She first worked in language acquisition for the University of Central Florida during the 1990’s.
Hope received her teaching degree from the University of Minnesota in 1982 and has teaching certification in Minnesota in Secondary Social Sciences and American Indian Language and Culture.  Her Florida teaching certificates include: Social Sciences, Elementary Ed., Pre-Kindergarten and English as a Second Language.  Hope’s graduate work was in Environmental Education.
She attends language tables, present at the Fond du Lac Language Camp, and completed third year Ojibwe at the University of Minnesota. Hope enjoys teaching and learning about plants, birchbark work, fishing, camping, craftwork and traveling.



Zach Mittness

Boozhoo! Binesi bi dagoshin indizhinikaanigoo. Makwa indoodem. Gaawaababiganikaag indoonjibaa. Mii omaa Gakaabikaang ingii ondaadiz. Anishinaabewi a’aw ninoos. Negwanabi izhinikaazo. Gaawiin dash Anishinaabewisii a’aw nimaamaa. Aapiji go apiitendamaan o’ow gidinwewininaan ow isa Ojibwemowin. Miinawaa gaye apiitendamaanan onow Anishinaabe izhitwaawinan. Mii- go bijiinag wejibwemoyaan. Weweni dash, ninanda gikendaan ow Ojibwemowin ji- wiidookawagwaa ogow abinoojiiyag ji minwaadiziwaad ezhi- ani- gikenimidizowaad.
Zach works as an Ojibwe immersion classroom teacher at the Four Directions/Family Partnership Program. He is from White Earth and is bear clan. Zach was born in Minneapolis and enjoys teaching and learning the Ojibwe language. He enjoys attending ceremonies and partaking in some of the gifts from the Creator such as Harvesting Manoomin in the fall and tapping Maple trees in the spring. He also enjoys singing at Pow-wows and ceremonies and enjoys working with birch bark. Zach acquired a lot of these skills from two of his We’ehnyag (namesakes) Jim and Pat Northrup. Zach has three children and believes wholeheartedly that strength is gained through nurturing our children in the language.




Brenda Cisneros

Bernadette Cisneros AKA ( Ete Ska ) Came to work for Wicoie October 1st, 2011. She is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is a first Language Lakota speaker and is working at the Anishinabe Academy with the Dakota High-5 class. Bernadette has some experience working with kids in the past; she has worked in a Head Start class room and she was in the medical field before coming to the program, working with pediatricians, children and adolescents. Bernadette likes to read, walk around the lake, and fix puzzles on her spare time.




Katie Jo Wo Okiye Blue

Katie Jo came to work for the Wicoie in August of 2012. Her Dakota name is Wó Okiye Wiƞ and she is Dakota from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. She is a member of the Upper Sioux community and cherishes the Dakota Language. Katie has a daughter who is seven years old and a son who is five years old. She has studied Dakota language for four years now through the University of Minnesota and working with a Master speaker. Her interests include going on family trips, traveling, biking, jogging, outdoors, powwow dancing, sewing, beading, and living the Dakota way of life. She loves working with children and is looking forward to a fun year of Dakota language, traditions and teachings with the class.




Jarydd Boston

Jarydd Boston has been learning Dakota Language for five years now. He earned his BA in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota with a focus on Dakota Language. He is working as one of the speakers in the Dakota Hi-5 classroom. Jarydd is not affiliated with a tribe, but is still dedicated to the teaching and learning of the Dakota Language. He has worked at a substitute teacher for the Dakota room and as a teacher’s assistant for the 2nd and third year Dakota classes at the U of M. He was hired as a speaker for the program after winter break 2011. He loves to camp and takes regular weekend camping trips to the north shore. His experience with scouts has been a great experience for him, giving experience working with youth in different environments.



Michelle Goose

Aaniin! Michelle Goose indizhinikaaz. Makwa indoodem. Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag indoonjibaa. Indazhiikaan curriculum miinawaa gaye niwiidookaage imaa gikinoo’amaadiwigamigong. Mii imaa University of Minnesota gaa-tazhi-gikinoo’amaagoziyaan. Ayaangodinong ingikinoo’amaage imaa Anishinabe Academy miinawaa gaye Four Directions (Family Partnership). Indazhiikaan Ojibwemotaadidaa Omaa Gidakiiminaang/Ojibwe Immersion Academy ezhinikaadeg. Miinawaa gaye Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission indazhi-anokii anikanoobii’igeyaan. Ingichi-minwendaan naaniimiyaan miinawaa gabeshiyaan imaa niimidi’iing. Miinawaa gaye ingichi-minwendaan agwajiing ayaayaan.
Hello! My name is Michelle Goose. My clan is the bear. I am from Leech Lake. I work on the curriculum and I also help out in the immersion classrooms. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Psychology and American Indian Studies with an Ojibwe language emphasis. Sometimes I teach in the Ojibwe classrooms at Anishinabe Academy and Four Directions (Family Partnership). I am working on the Ojibwe Immersion Academy project through the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. I also work for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission transcribing traditional stories for the Gidaadizookaaninaanig project. I love dancing and camping at pow-wows. I also love being outdoors.



Allison Kirby

Allison Kirby started working at Wicoie Nandagikendan in August of 2009 as a Hi-5 Dakota language teacher. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 where she studied art and Dakota language. She is currently getting her masters in elementary education from the University of St. Thomas. When she is not working she enjoys sewing, traveling, relaxing, and outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, biking and camping.