Folklorist/documentary filmmaker Michael Loukinen and musician/storyteller Corinne Rockow are recipients of the 2015 Upper Peninsula Folklife Award. The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University honors individuas who have done much to preserve and promote the folk traditions of the region. The awards will be presented at the center's benefit, "A French-Canadian Dinner," on May 12. For more information and to register for the event, please go to https://www.regonline.com/2015FrenchCanadianDinner.
A sociologist by training, Loukinen began teaching at NMU in 1976. His research on the region's Finnish culture and interest in documentary filmmaking led to Finnish American Lives, which was released in 1982 by UP North Films. He has made many other films focusing on the culture of the Upper Peninsula and many of its resident groups, including the Anishinaabe. His relationship with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Ojibwa Indians resulted in films about their folk traditions, including Tradition Bearers, Good Man in the Woods, Medicine Fiddle, Anishinaabe Gikinoo’amaadiwin, Manoomin (wild rice): Ojibwe Spirit Food, Ojibwe Drum Songs and Ojibwe Birch Bark Wigwam. He recently retired from NMU, but continues work on a documentary about U.P. ghost towns, focused primarily on the community of Winona. Loukinen has won several awards for his work.
Rockow has performed in schools, nature centers, libraries and other venues across the Great Lakes region since 1984. She has spread the joy of music with the help of her "extended family" of guitar, banjo, uke, drums, bones, dulcimers, accordion and recycled instruments. In addition to touring with the Heritage Ensemble (teaching history through music and story), she had several stints as a music teacher in Wisconsin and U.P. public schools. Rockow now designs and teaches the NMU School of Education's “Integrating the Arts into the Elementary Curriculum.” She co-founded the Superior Harmony Children’s Chorus and the Moosewood Nature Center, and co-directed the Gitchee Gumee Guys Boychoir. In 2013, she started the Big Water Community Sing, an organization that welcomes anyone to sing many genres of music at monthly gatherings. Rockow also has been working as a music therapist with various transitional education classes, the UPDSA, and senior citizen groups in Marquette through a VSAMI grant program with some funding from the Kennedy Center for the Arts.