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home : community : features May 1, 2016

4/13/2007 8:00:00 AM
Anakwad Elm: A young man destined for great things
Anakwad Elm is pictured with his parents, Robert Elm and Danielle Montgomery.
Anakwad Elm is pictured with his parents, Robert Elm and Danielle Montgomery.

Joyce Laabs
Features Editor

There used to be a television show in Arizona called "The Other 98 Percent." It's premise is that we always read and hear about the two percent of the young people who get into trouble and cause problems - while the other 98 percent go unheralded.

There is a young man in Lac du Flambeau who rises to the top of the "Other 98 Percent." He is Anakwad Elm who is a fifth grade student at the Lac du Flambeau Public School.

Anakwad, a name which means "cloud" and was given to him by Bill Daniels, Forest County Potawatomi elder, was just named the Wisconsin Indian Education Association "Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year."

It is a singular honor for the son of Robert Elm and Danielle Montgomery.

One among 7,000 candidates from the 4th through 7th grade vying for the honor, he was nominated by his fifth grade teachers - Kevin Smith, math and science - Lori St. Germain, language - Dorothy Doorn - his homeroom teacher. The nomination was accompanied by a letter of recommendation from principal Ron Grams.

When he received the letter announcing he had won, he said he found it hard to believe.

Anakwad, a rather shy young man, loves school and has always been on the honor roll.

"In school I like math the best," he said. "Outside of school I love to play sports. I play baseball (Cubs are his favorite team), football (Packers are his favorite team), basketball (Miami Heat are his favorites) and soccer.

"Right now I like playing baseball best. I play first base and as a pitcher. I play a guard, tight end and kicker in football."

Although he says he likes baseball best, future plans include consideration of playing pro-football - with the Packers, of course. But that does not mean he would ignore academics and is leaning toward studying law. He is already thinking about the University of Southern California (USC), for although he has never visited the campus, he thinks he would like California.

In addition to his sports activities, he spends time outdoors with his father learning how to hunt and fish. He goes berry picking with his grandparents in the summer, and it is with them he learns his native language and oral history.

His teachers had many nice things to say about Anakwad. Just a few of their comments:

"He is on the high honor roll - academics is important to him. He volunteered for peer tutoring in one of the four kindergarten classrooms. Here he reads with the children, does learning activities and helps the teacher with various tasks.

"He is in the "gifted and talented" program at the school, and is a candidate for an engineering and technology scholarship.

"He participated in a community development project where students were asked to design a sign, make an aerial view, and develop a plan that would be a cultural match and an asset to the Lac du Flambeau community. Anakwad's idea was for a super mall that would highlight the traditional culture of the community. His artwork design, with a feather, was outstanding.

"He is involved in the Intercultural Leadership Initiative (ILI), a program that brings together students from the four grade schools in the area and promotes learning and accepting different cultures through games, challenges, talking circles and a variety of learning activities. ILI high school students from Lakeland Union High School serve as mentors for the grade school students.

He shows respect for himself, other students, teachers, coaches, family and adults. In addition, he is thankful for the opportunities that have been given him.

He has not forgotten his heritage. His mother is teaching him how to prepare and cook traditional and non-traditional foods, and he does beadwork and craft projects. He attends powwows throughout the summer and sings alongside his father with the Warriors drum group. He attends Big Drum services weekly and Tchii Dewe'igan ceremonies during the year.

According to his teachers: "He also participates in the Anishinaabe Ways curriculum which includes projects for wild ricing, powwows and maple sugar camp. Activities include designing and drawing murals with other team members, craft projects and searching out information on different aspects of each unit. Anakwad shows creativity and knowledge of the material."

His parents take pride in their son. It is a close family. There is a brother, Jeremy Schuman, age 11; and sisters, Mkedemkokwe "Black Bear Lady" Elm, age 9; and Neve Bonga, age 4. Both Robert and Michelle served in the Navy - Robert on a ship and Danielle as an airman. Robert was discharged in 1994 and Michelle in 2001.

Anakwad sounds almost "too good to be true," but says his parents are always there for him when he needs help and they encourage him.

We understand his strong interest in sports - his father coaches Lakeland AYSO soccer, the Lakeland baseball all-star team and Lakeland basketball. In Lac du Flambeau he coaches Pop Warner football and baseball.

A banquet to honor Anakwad will be held Saturday, April 14, 5 p.m., at Lake of the Torches Casino. It is open to the public, with tickets selling at $11 each.

Joyce Laabs can be reached at


Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by: Jake Thomas

If Anawkad is 15...how does that make him a 5th grader at the public school?

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Joe Thompson

Keep up the good work, Anakwad. Wisconsin is proud to have students like you, who are destined for great things if you do.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Neve Bonga

I'm proud of my big bro I am ten now and anakwad is 15 he's the best big brother in the world

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Article comment by: mackenzee smith

anakwad elm is my cousins big brrother isnt that weird i am 10 years old i have a facebook and a twitter and my cousinn says that he is in baseball and he got a letter that says after high school he can go to a skill camp and if he completes that skill camp he might be in mlb

Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2011
Article comment by: danielle montgomry

I love the picture. And now my son is 14 and demko is 13 and neve is 9.And i have a little boy that is 2

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2007
Article comment by: Beth Tornes

This is a wonderful and positive story, the kind we need more of regarding the LdF community! Thanks Joyce Laabs for writing it, and for doing such a good job in profiling Anakwad Elm, an amazing young man indeed. Bravo to his parents also, for doing such a fine job in raising him. The name "Michelle" was used in the 4th-to-last paragraph, where I think you meant "Danielle" as in the rest of that paragraph. Maybe you could provide a correction in a future issue. Thank you, Beth Tornes p.s. This email is not meant for publication, just as an fYI.

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