May 15, 2011

Dakota and Ojibwe doomed?

Working Group Says Dakota and Ojibwe Language Survival is QuestionableIn 2009, the Minnesota State Legislature established a volunteer working group to “develop a unified strategy to revitalize and preserve indigenous languages of the 11 federally recognized American Indian tribes in Minnesota.” That group turned in its report, Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota in February.

The first key finding listed is that Dakota and Ojibwe languages are in “critical condition,” because the population of fluent and first speakers—who were raised speaking the language—is small to begin with and many don’t have teaching credentials.

The working group recognizes the importance of revitalizing American Indian languages because they are “more than grammar and vocabulary. They are inseparable from American Indian identity. Languages express, reflect, and maintain the connections of people to one another and to the world around them. They are shaped over millennia by communal experience, and they shape how a people come to know who they are and what is true, where they came from, where they live, and how the world around them works materially and spiritually.”

But the group fears that assaults on Native culture in general may mean it’s too late for the languages. They say the survival of Dakota and Ojibwe languages “remains a question. After centuries of assault, indigenous languages require heroic life-saving measures on many fronts.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "L" dialect is relatively strong. My parents actually didn't speak English to me until I was about 4, because they had an indigenous rights kick. Also, a lot of kids like the idea of having a "secret language".