August 17, 2008

Hualapai language camps

Language camps help tribes keep languages aliveAbout 80 youngsters are camped in tents for the program at Hualapai Mountain Park.

They rise at 5 a.m. for a hike, followed by language sessions. One "master" uses pantomime to teach a Native game similar to street hockey, then asks kids to describe the actions in Pai terms. Others teach how to make arrows, gourd rattles and a drink from sumac berries.
And:Because language frames the way a person looks upon the world, Watahomigie said, its demise also threatens a tribe's values, traditions and religion.

That reality is magnified by the dominance of pop culture among kids.

"A lot of these kids here, they don't even think they're Indians. They're like everyone else," she said. "We have a lot of gangs, a lot of drug abuse, right now. Much of that is because children don't have a good self-concept. It's important for them to be proud of who they are, to respect themselves, to understand that they are a unique people but also part of a whole."

Nearby, two girls share an iPod. They appear to be ignoring their pottery instructor, but it turns out that the music in their ears comes from a traditional Hualapai singer.

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