June 22, 2007

Cree immersion kindergarten

Another Cree kindergarten coming to SaskatoonThe nêhiyawak Cree immersion kindergarten is scheduled to begin this September at St. Frances School.

The goal is to help children pick up a language that some of their family members might already speak and to learn about First Nations culture.

Language retention, First Nations culture and identity are foundations for healthy, happy students, according to Chief Joe Quewezance of the Saskatoon Tribal Council, one the aboriginal groups working on the program.

June 20, 2007

Teaching conversational Ottawa

Woman tries to save Ottawa languageAccording to Minnesota-based Native Languages of the Americas, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve and promote endangered Native American languages, there are only about a half-million native speakers of American Indian languages in Canada and the U.S.

So DiPiazza gathered about a dozen other Native Americans she knew who range in age from 22 to 78 who wanted to learn--plus a few of their spouses--and now is wrapping up a class teaching conversational Ottawa at Ada Park.

DiPiazza doesn't know the spellings of the words she teaches. She has made a key of hundreds of words, all spelled phonetically.

June 13, 2007

Cyberspace makes languages cool

Internet breathes life into dying languages"The Internet offers endangered languages a chance to have a public voice in a way that would not have been possible before," said Crystal, who has written over 50 books on language including ‘The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language’.

Languages at risk of extinction are appearing on blogs, instant messaging, chat rooms, video site www.youtube.com and social networking site www.myspace.com, and their presence in the virtual world curries favour with youngsters who speak them.

"It doesn't matter how much activism you engage in on behalf of a language if you don't attract the teenagers, the parents of the next generation of children," Crystal, who was raised speaking English and Welsh, said.

June 08, 2007

The slow-motion massacre

Language summit struggles against 'slow-motion massacre'Richard Littlebear, president of Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Mont., on the Northern Cheyenne lands, related a personal history with an all-too-familiar ring to it in Indian country--education at a BIA boarding school, training as a high school English teacher, "all angled towards promoting English, and for a long time that's the way it was. I said, 'No, we don't need Indian, Native American languages, we don't need Cheyenne. We don't need another language. All we need to know here is English.'

"Finally about 1980, I started making this, what I would characterize as a slow-motion epiphany, into becoming an advocate, a very strong advocate, of our Native languages. Because all through my educational experience, it seemed to me like somebody had been lying to me about my own language, and about where I came from and what my identity was as a Northern Cheyenne person. ... It seems like I must have learned a new word, because I've been using 'slow motion' a whole bunch here lately. But it seems to me like back in 1492, a slow-motion massacre started. It gained in intensity in the late 1800s in the northern Plains territory, where they were actually killing us. The massacres were happening. Now, it has slowed down a little bit. But the massacres that started in 1492 are still happening today. They are hitting right at the heart of us, of who we are, because they are attacking our languages and our culture. The slow-motion massacre is occurring in curricula, it's occurring in media, it's occurring in the books that we read, it's occurring in the loss of our languages. And if we do not do anything to stop this, then we are accomplices in the slow-motion massacre of our languages, and of our culture. We've got to do something about this."

June 07, 2007

Protecting the Inuktitut language

Nunavut introduces new language bills

Not strong enough, say Inuktitut proponents; small businesses disagreeProposed laws aimed at protecting the Inuit language went through first reading Tuesday in the Nunavut legislature.

But some say the legislation does not go far enough in putting Inuktitut and Innuinaqtun on an equal footing with English and French, while others say it goes too far.
The issue being addressed:"Our problem in the Inuktitut language is that we don't have Inuktitut-speaking judges, we don't have Inuktitut-speaking doctors," Tapardjuk added. "It's eventually going to come around, but we are to make certain there are [pieces] of legislation that [address] that issue."

Both proposed laws are meant to ensure Inuit can see and use their language in all facets of life, from phone bills and bylaw tickets, to workplaces and schools. They were developed following several months of public consultations around the territory.

June 03, 2007

College class in Kumeyaay

Course develops new Kumeyaay speakersFor the next 2½ hours, the ponytailed instructor teaches the 12 students a dying Indian language he is working to revive with help from two East County community colleges.

“Our language is in danger of extinction. We have few speakers,” said Rodriguez, who is paid by Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego but teaches the course at Kumeyaay Community College on the Sycuan reservation in the Dehesa Valley.