Angela Bellanger, director of MSUM’s Counseling Services, connects her native teachings from her youth to prosper in her work on campus. She says her Ojibwe culture and the values she learned at a young age guide her life today.
As a child, she was taught the “Grandfather Teachings” – principles interconnecting the values of truth, courage, respect, integrity, love, wisdom, and humility. Each principle is represented as an animal.
Debwewin (Truth) • Turtle • The teachings on truth allow you to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to being the complete person we were created to become. This allows youth to see that though the journey may be slow, they must keep moving forward as they have not yet met their destination.
Zoongidi’ewin (Courage) • Bear • Through this teaching, our mentors will work with youth to explain the importance of Courage to make positive choices, have a conviction based on your decisions, and find inner strength so you can face your fears, allowing you to live life free for the betterment of the person, family and community.
Manaaji’idiwin (Respect) • Buffalo • The teachings on respect include learning to treat those around you the way you want to be treated and that respect does not allow you to be harmful to yourself or others. If you harm yourself, you also harm yourself and the entire community.
Gwayakwaadiziwin (Integrity) • Raven • The teaching on Integrity focuses us on knowing and accepting who we are and reminds us not to try to be someone who we are not; it also teaches us how Natives have been given the ability to survive and thrive.
Zaagi’idiwin (Love) • Eagle • Love can be found in the core of all teachings. It is most important and focuses on having peace with yourself, balance in life, acceptance of all things and graciousness with the Creator.
Nibwaakaawin (Wisdom) • Beaver • The teaching of wisdom will allow you to use your inherited gifts wisely and to recognize your differences and those of others in a kind and respectful way. Wisdom nurtures your ability to listen with clarity and a sound mind so this teaching will focus on how to listen.
Dabasendizowin (Humility) • Wolf • This teaching brings home that you are a sacred part of creation and allows you to carry your pride with your people and praise the accomplishments of all. Humility will teach you to find a balance within yourself for all creation.
Growing up, Angela learned to walk two different paths in life. Performing Ojibwe ceremonies at home while attending western public schools allowed her to intertwine both cultures every day.
"We were taught these messages as children to know how to live a good life,” she said. “I was able to take my tribal practices at home and cross them over in my western lifestyle also.”
Angela graduated from MSUM with her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice (‘99) and social work (‘04). As a student, she worked alongside people in Native American Studies, which is now the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
After earning her degrees, Angela worked as a counselor within her tribe at White Earth Nation for 19 years, where she focused on providing holistic modalities for her clients. She joined MSUM in 2019 as the director of Counseling Services.
Angela joined MSUM because she was driven by how the campus values connected with her childhood teachings.
"MSUM’s values resonate with how I was brought up,” she said.
With the values of truth, courage, respect, integrity, love, wisdom, and humility, Angela continues to lead her team and be there for every student that comes through the door.
"I believe in what we do at Counseling Services,” she says. “I think we can use these values in a way to face our challenges and talk about them.”
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