February 28, 2007

More on the Ojibwe CD

Award-winning musician gives back through his musicKaren Drift, Bois Forte Head Start teacher and champion of the Ojibwe language, speaks softly, repeating each word several times as a flute sings gracefully in the background. Her granddaughter, Larissa, repeats words to the soft strum of an acoustic guitar. These traditional Ojibwe language lessons accompanied by music can now be heard on Drift's new compact disc, “Anishinabemoin,” was released on Jan. 25 under the new Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Music and Akina Records label.

Award-winning musician Keith Secola, who provides the music on “Anishinabemoin,” was asked by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Tribal Council to be part of an Ojibwe language CD. He happily agreed and jumped on board as the producer, consultant and solo musician. With his accomplished songwriting, producing and own style of Native contemporary music, Secola was perfect to make the CD complete.

February 26, 2007

Reviving languages can be done

Keweenaw community seeks to save Ojibwe languageMembers say the language is an essential aspect of their culture.

"Language is communication, but also it tells who you are," said Earl Otchingwanigan, professor emeritus of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. "Within the language itself, there is history and culture built into it."

"Other cultures around the world ... have brought their languages back from the brink of extinction, such as the Maori in the South Seas," he said. "The Jewish people in Israel have brought their language back, so it can be done."

February 23, 2007

Survey says:  develop program

KBIC native language effort continuesSurvey results so far indicate enthusiasm among KBIC members, she said.

“So far the support has been great because people are wanting the program,” she said. Ashbrook said 345 completed surveys are needed, and a series of oral interviews must take place, before the tribe can apply for the second-phase grant from the ANA. The next grant in the ANA’s three-phase grant series would be a one-year grant to fund the tribe’s development of a language instruction program and curriculum individual to the tribe.

February 19, 2007

The importance of Native languages

Native voices going extinctHarrison said that Western biologists are only now beginning to unravel the diversity of plants and species that local inhabitants have long understood and catalogued in their rich vocabulary.

For example, recent research discovered that a butterfly in Costa Rica wasn't one species but 10. Yet the local Tzeltal people had already called the caterpillars by different names, because they attacked different crops.
Some recent successes:[R]ecent success in reviving several aboriginal tongues is rousing hope that the tide of language extinction is not inevitable, delegates at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science heard. Some examples:

  • The language of Miami-Illinois Indians, long classed as extinct, is now spoken daily by at least 50 people after a major "reclamation" effort.

  • Languages on the brink of extinction are being recorded for future revival--such as that of the Chulym, a tribe of hunters and fishers in Siberia.

  • A master-apprentice program is rejuvenating some of the 50 threatened aboriginal languages in California.

  • More than 2,000 schoolchildren are now fluent speakers of Hawaiian, a language banned from schools in Hawaii for almost a century.
  • Natives know their reindeer

    Human knowledge eroded as endangered languages dieA tiny community of reindeer herders in Siberia holds intimate knowledge of the lives, the foraging and the rutting season of their priceless animals, and it's the kind of information that is vital to anyone concerned by the loss of human cultures--and to biologists worried about the loss of species diversity anywhere in the world.

    Of the 426 members of Siberia's isolated Chulym people, only 35 still speak Tuvan, their ancient language, fluently, and they're all older than 50. Everyone else speaks only Russian, according to K. David Harrison, an adventuresome linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Harrison has lived with the Chulym and hopes to preserve their vanishing language.

    The Chulym can fully describe a "2-year-old male castrated rideable reindeer" with only the single word chary, and to Harrison, that not only shows how ancient languages differ from their modern counterparts, but is symbolic of a worldwide loss in important cultural diversity.

    Trying to save Shoshone

    Shoshone tribe also looks to preserve languageLike the Northern Arapaho are attempting to do with the help of a five-year federal grant, members of the Eastern Shoshone are looking for ways to expand the language to children as young as three years old, in hopes that the little ones will grow up with the language and culture their elders might have forgotten.

    The Eastern Shoshone Certification Committee is just beginning to recruit Eastern Shoshone language instructors who would teach children in preschool programs their native language and culture, and expand it later to elementary-aged children and their parents.

    They're also looking to access money from a federal law passed in December that preserves languages once frequently spoken by Indians to pay for some of the instruction.

    February 15, 2007

    Council on Indigenous Languages

    Bill would create council to preserve, promote education of Ojibwe languageAs few as 15 fully fluent Dakota speakers reside in Minnesota and perhaps as few as 50 fluent Ojibwe speakers, according to Margaret Boyer of the Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals and the Dakota Ojibwe Language Revitalization Alliance. But a state council of stakeholders would be established to preserve and promote education of these languages if a bill introduced in the House last Thursday proves successful.

    The bill would create a Council on Indigenous Languages with representatives of 32 stakeholders, including indigenous organizations, academic institutions and 11 tribes. The council would direct development of education programs for children and adults to learn how to speak, read and write in endangered native languages.

    Lifetime of saving languages

    Native languages scholar receives lifetime achievement awardAll over the world, Native languages are threatened, Krauss said. Of the earth's remaining 6,000 languages, he said, about half of them will disappear during this century, with all but the last five or 10 percent dying in the next century. Krauss said he would like to see governments work to stop what he calls the tragic loss of languages.

    "We work to save endangered species, but we don't work to save endangered languages," he said. "It's a lot easier to keep them alive than to bring them back."

    February 07, 2007

    PhD in indigenous language

    Ph.D. program helps to preserve Hawaiian languageThe students in the University of Hawaii at Hilo's first Ph.D. program are working to revitalize the Hawaiian language and culture.

    Five students are enrolled in the new program, which was established this fall for a doctor of philosophy degree in Hawaiian and indigenous language and culture revitalization.

    It's the first doctorate in the United States in a Native language, according to the school.

    February 03, 2007

    CD and Secola promote Ojibwe

    Bringing the Ojibwe language back to life“We have only 12 elders left who speak fluently,” said Drift. “It’s not our language that’s lost; it’s us who are lost.”

    She hopes to help change that with the release of a CD that features Drift pronouncing common Ojibwe words and phrases. A release party for the “Anishinabemoin” CD was held last week at the Bois Forte Heritage Center.

    The CD also features music by national award-winning artist Keith Secola and the contributions of Anishinabe children, including Drift’s granddaughter, Larissa, who recite phrases, sing and play drums.