The university’s pipeline to underrepresented prospective students extended its reach recently with the launch of Campus KinoMaage, an on-campus residential experience geared to Native American students. 

KinoMaage means “to share teachings” in Anishinaabe, the language of the Three Fires People — the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadmi.  In 1817, these tribes made the University of Michigan possible by their gift of substantial acreage, with the expressed wish that their descendants might one day be students at the university.

Some of their descendants were among the participants of Campus KinoMaage’s inaugural session May 15-17, sponsored by the Center for Educational Outreach in collaboration with LSA.

“President Schlissel has urged the entire university community to prioritize diversity, inclusion and equity. We know through experience and research that the pipeline to higher education is an effective means of doing so,” said CEO executive director William Collins.

“To be most effective, the pipeline has to be open before high school. So our initial focus was Camp KinoMaage residential science camp for middle school students at the university’s Biological Station near Pellston, Michigan. Now our new Campus KinoMaage program extends that pipeline into high school.”

From left, Rachel Smith, Andrew Innerebner and Jillian Lowler celebrate their successful tower design in the College of Engineering’s science challenge during Campus KinoMaage. (Photo by Jeanna Fox)

Campus KinoMaage participants learned about the university and about Anishinaabe culture on campus.  They took tours of Central and North campuses and the Natural History Museum, and participated in a science challenge activity at the College of Engineering.

CEO’s Real on College theater troupe presented an interactive performance, and members of U-M’s Native American Students Association joined them for an ice cream social.

“We stay in touch with camp alumni by email, newsletters and social media,” said program director Jeanna Fox. “But the on-campus experience provides essential reinforcement.”

The student participants seemed to agree in their responses to a survey at the program’s end:

Q: What was your biggest “take-away” from Campus KinoMaage?

Respondent A: “When you go to college, you aren’t alone. Even though you are leaving your family, you find a new group of people and those people want to help you.”

Respondent B: “The necessity to go to college. Through the lectures, tours and experiences, I learned the importance of lifelong learning.”

Q: What was the greatest influence [at Campus KinoMaage] on your thinking about college?

Respondent C: “Just seeing the campus. Just being able to get out of my hometown and being able to breathe in air from a different place.  And then being able to walk around and see what great potential college could have if you just gave it a chance.”

Respondent D: “Just the whole weekend. Meeting new people, learning about different things. … It just gave me a boost in my confidence.”

Camp KinoMaage motto:  G’wii kinomaadizomi  (We will teach each other)

The cycle will begin again June 21, when Camp KinoMaage convenes for a fifth year.

Rising seventh- and eighth-graders from all 12 Michigan tribes will arrive at the Biological Station to conduct water-quality tests, participate in lessons in Anishinaabemowin — the language of the Peoples of the Three Fires, participate in Anishinaabe crafts, and organize and convene their own mini-pow wow and feast.

Additionally, they will enjoy those staples of the camp experience: s’mores, campfires, swimming and fun.

Current U-M students Schuyler Robinson and Native American Student Association member Rebecca Lynn will be on hand to provide college access guidance.

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