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The Four Pillars

The Four Pillars are based entirely on the work that Father Baraga did amongst the Ojibwe Natives. Father Baraga truly cared about the issues that were important to the Native populations at the time that he worked among them.  Healing Wounds created the four pillars off of his work with the Native populations.  Please read about how Father Baraga was connected with each of the four pillars below! 

Language Revitalization

From the beginning of the work that Father Baraga did he understood that the United States was attempting to assimilate the Native Populations.  Typical missionaries who worked with the Native populations were given funding by the United States to bring forward their objectives including ensuring that the Native populations spoke the English language and eliminated their own.  Father Baraga had a different approach.  Instead of attempting to have the Natives learn the English language he instead would create what is still considered the largest Ojibwe dictionary so that anyone who worked with the Native populations would be able to speak their language.  He knew that the Native language was closely tied with who they were as a people.  

Not long after Father Baraga's passing in 1868 the United States implemented policies that would make it illegal for the Native populations to speak their languages.  Given that the Natives were taken at a young age from their parents and brought to the boarding schools, many of the Native populations could not remember their languages.  At this time there are some tribes that only have one fluent speaker of the traditional languages.  Other tribes are doing all that they can to help the younger population learn their languages through the use of language immersion schools, etc.  Healing Wounds Ministry works with those that are helping to restore and collect their languages so that they are retained in the Native tribes.  

Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation

Alcohol was first introduced by the European populations through the fur trade business.  Initially the fur trade began as something that created a working relationship between the European populations and the Native populations.  During the time that Father Baraga lived with the Ojibwe he saw the change of fur trade into a monopoly aimed at collecting as much from the Native populations with as little money as possible.  During this timeframe the fur traders then began to use alcohol as a means to take advantage of the Native populations.  The fur traders knew and understood that alcohol for the Native populations was an addiction.  Father Baraga saw the tactics that the fur traders were involved in and understood the harms that alcohol created.  At one point Father Baraga's life was threatened due to the influence of alcohol.  When this transpired Father Baraga promised that if he were to live that he would abstain from alcohol.  After this his life was spared Father Baraga also created temperance cards for the Native populations that they would have to sign to signify that they would also abstain.  

Alcohol and drug addiction continues to be a core issue for the Native populations.  It has been noted that alcohol and drugs has been used as a way of coping with the traumas that happened amongst the boarding schools in addition to the other histories.  Healing Wounds Ministry wants to ensure that the Native populations are cared for in this way in the same way that Father Baraga wanted to ensure that their were positive family connections with one another.  Healing Wounds Ministry seeks to do this work by working with other organizations that are working towards alleviating the use of alcohol and drugs on the reservations.  

Land & Water Preservation

Food, water, shelter and clothing are the basic fundamentals that everyone needs to be able to create a foundation for thriving in this world.  Father Baraga wanted to ensure that the Native populations had these basic needs as well.  When the Europeans were encroaching on their region Father Baraga knew that the Native population, if they were to have success in living a non-nomadic life, would have to have these basic resources.  During his time in working with the Ojibwe treaty agreements maintained that if the Natives were to be given lands for them to live on that they would still be able to retain their rights to hunting, fishing and ricing off of the reservations.  


After the reservations were created the Native populations became dependent on the United States to be able to give them the necessary resources for their survival.  Oftentimes the United States government did not follow through on their promises to give the Native populations what they agreed to give when the treaties were signed which created additional hardship for the Native populations.  Not only did the reservations create challenges in obtaining their own food, given how far away they were to the cities that were being built, even a chance of obtaining a job to be able to provide the necessary means for survival were limited.  Even today reservations struggle with being able to have access to clean water or indoor plumbing.  Healing Wounds Ministry helps to repair the challenges to the Native reservations in this way as well.  Healing Wounds Ministry works with other organizations that help provide assistance with food, shelter, water and clothing to ensure that the Native populations have their basic needs met.

Food, Water, Shelter and Clothing

In the 1830's, due to the Indian Removal Act stated that all Natives needed to be removed from their land and moved west of the Mississippi River.  Given that Father Baraga started working with the Ojibwe in 1831 he worked during a time when the Ojibwe Natives were under constant threat of removal from their land.  Given the importance of their land to them they knew that they would do anything they could to remain on their lands.  When other Missionaries, Indian Agents, Fur Traders were in collaboration with the government to have the Ojibwe removed from their lands and go to lands that were west of the Mississippi river, Father Baraga did the opposite and worked to ensure that they could stay on their lands.  Father Baraga would even purchase land at the time that they were threatened with removal and when it was safe to do so he would deed this land over to the Native chiefs.  In the year 1854 the reservations were created based on the desires of Chief Buffalo who worked with Father Baraga on Madeline Island which allowed the Ojibwe to remain on their lands east of the Mississippi River.

Father Baraga passed in the year of 1868.  The Native populations soon found that their lands, even after the reservations were created, were slowly being removed from them and sometimes their sacred sites were even being renamed to names that discriminated against their culture and beliefs such as Devil's tower which was named in 1875 and has not been changed to this day.  The Native populations had to work to ensure that their treaty rights were honored so that they could hunt and fish on their lands as promised.  Today the Native population is working to ensure that water and land is preserved so that it will not be polluted through mining and pipelines and remains available for all to be able to use.  Your donation has the ability to not only secure lands for the Native populations but also to ensure that the names of locations do not discriminate against their beliefs and to ensure that water is protected for all to be able to use.  

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