February 17, 2008

Reclaiming Algonquian languages

Mashantucket Pequots Seek To Reclaim, Preserve Language

Tribe's children are keys to reviving ancient tongue[T]here is an entire field of anthropology and linguistics that specializes in reclaiming indigenous languages. For the fourth time in eight years, those professionals will gather at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, starting Wednesday, to discuss everything from poetic form to developing an Algonquian dictionary.

For the first time, the tribe's children will be involved. Their artwork, featuring animals and the corresponding Pequot word showcased in pastel drawings and on clay tiles, will be on display.

The next major step for both tribes is initiating a major push to teach all tribal members the language. Jones said two dozen members have graduated from a beginner-level language course and several are in advanced-level courses.

The Mohegan tribe has also developed a phrase book and dictionary and is currently putting together language programs for adults and children.

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