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.

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