William Schaaf
Birchbark frames and objects

Artist Bio:  As an elder member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe I have been involved as a member to strengthen Tribal government. I have assisted the MLBO as well as all  tribal Self-Government Tribes in negotiation and completion of Federal laws that are made permanent.  There are now approximately 200 tribes involved with self-governance. 

I have had the opportunity to teach young students of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe the art of Birch Bark  crafting.  Classes are conducted at several school locations located on the Mille Lacs Reservation.  I have also attended many Native Arts &Crafts shows. In addition, I have been actively involved with agencies like the Minnesota Art Institute, the Central Minnesota Arts Institute to provide Birchbark crafts instruction at their facilities.  More recently I was employed by the Pine County Probation Department as the Cultural Community coach to work directly with kiddos. Within the court system to work directly with school truancy issues and other matters youth are faced with contemporarily.  As an offshoot or as a natural progression I had the opportunity to initiate the MAHKOONZ cultural camp in Hinckley, MN, with the assistance of Mr. Ed St.John, also a Mille Lacs Band elder.


For the past two years, I have worked with the cultural camp, to provide several training opportunities. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is also located in the pine county region. There are many students of Ojibwe descent residing in the pine county area that attend public schools. I have organized several culturally relevant training classes made available for pine county school age students. They are as follows:

  • Introduction to Ojibwe birch bark crafting which includes, basket making, miniature birch bark canoes, and methods of construction

  • Traditional Ojibwe History,

  • Plant and medicine gathering & a traditional contemporary history of Minnesota Ojibwe people

  • Teachings on how to harvest and make sacred Ojibwe tobacco (and why this has such an important standing in Ojibwe culture).

  • Organized and held traditional naming ceremonies at the cultural camp

  • Held trainings on basic Ojibwe language through an innovative game called Ojibwe bingo

  • Held trainings for gathering tipi poles and erecting tipis

  • Held field trips to the forest for gathering lodge poles for tipis and for Ojibwe lodges also held training and erected two lodges at the St. Croix state park.

  • Held classroom field visits on instructions for harvesting birch bark, red willow, native Labrador tea

  • Provided teachings on harvest methods, how to store and care for harvested materials

See William Schaaf's work at:

William Schaaf will do Live Demonstrations:

Friday, September 24, at 6:00 and 7:00 PM

Saturday, September 25, at 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 PM

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