April 09, 2009

7th annual Oklahoma language fair

Language fair has drama in Norman

By Tami AlthoffMost of the audience couldn’t understand the language, but they certainly knew what was going on Tuesday when Cushing High School students presented "Sauc Pre-K in 2011” at the seventh annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Despite the language barrier, the content of the skit was universal.

"It was about stuff that would normally happen in a pre-K class,” Sydney Gabbard, a Cushing High School senior, said. "The language we were speaking was Sauc.”
And:More than 500 participants, in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, attended the language fair Monday and Tuesday at the museum. Coming from Oklahoma and other states, they competed in categories such as spoken word, dance, music, film and essay.

The event is the largest American Indian youth language fair in the country, featuring an estimated 24 languages.

Candessa Tehee Morgan, coordinator of the fair, said the event gives students a chance to learn and practice their native language.

April 06, 2009

Native films help preserve languages

Saving Native American languages[Elizabeth Weatherford is] director of the Native American Film and Video Festival which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Dozens of native language films are being shown, including the first to be written entirely in Alaska's Inupiaq language.

Sikumi/On the Ice, by Andrew Okpeaha Maclean, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was short listed for an Academy Award.

"Anything that can activate young people who have been saturated by the American media is really important," says Ms Weatherford.

"Film making can make them empowered by the use of language in their own world. It's the transmission of language through culture and there's an effortlessness to it."
Below:  "Sikumi is the first film to be written entirely in Alaska's Inupiaq language."

April 05, 2009

Minnesota efforts need coordination

Indian leaders, lawmakers try to save languages"Our Ojibwe language is officially in a state of crisis," Jourdain said. "We estimate that there are as few as 300 fluent language speakers remaining within our tribe. Our official tribal enrollment number is 9,397 members."

His tribe, like many others, is working on the issue, with a recent study resulting in a five-year plan to protect the language.

"This brings us one step closer to establishing a language immersion program on the reservation focusing on children and families," he said.

But Native Americans talking to legislative committees said coordination is needed, including with the state education system.

"We are all recreating the wheel," said Marisa Carr, who has translated school books into Dakota and Ojibwe.
And:Turning the tide is the goal of legislative bills sponsored by Olson and Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley.

The bills' bottom line is to create an inventory of existing language programs on the 11 Minnesota reservations, including school curriculum, and find ways to spread Indian language education.