November 21, 2008

Menominee talking circles

Menominee language finds new life in schools

Tribe committed to preserving conversational skillsEveryone must participate in Margaret Snow's "talking circle" when the fifth-graders introduce themselves using the Menominee language—that's a rule.

Some students easily pronounce the words, repeating their name, clan and hometown as quickly as they can recall it. But it's more of a challenge to others who may not have been as exposed to the native language.

"I just want them to try," said Snow, one of two language teachers at Keshena Primary School. "With these words they can communicate with each other, so it's important they have a chance to show they can remember their introductions."

Snow's third-grade students learn to talk about the weather in the Menominee language, and then recite a traditional prayer. Her fifth-graders focus on their conversational skills.

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