Language and Identity

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JODY ALLEN CROWE (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa, MN)
We now have fluent speakers as of this year starting at zero or birth all the way up to second grade in with kids all day and their job is to speak the Ojibwa language so kids are hearing the language and responding to them. And one of our graduation requirements is a speech in the Ojibwa language at the graduation.

EDWARD MINNEMA (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa, MN)
I worked with Head Start all the way through high school, and so I thought to myself, if we’re really going to get these kids to sing in a language that they don’t understand, the music better be up. The way I like to work with the kids is, I need a visual, something visual, I need the words in print, so that they learn how to read Ojibwa as well as recognize it, and of course the music. So those three things combined, it’s a pretty strong package. And the kids like to do physical actions with the songs.

After about two or three years the kids have really started to pick up on it. Teachers have also commented that they’re hearing more and more Ojibwa in the classrooms than they ever heard before. So it’s really awakened something inside of them, I think.

Video courtesy of WDSE-Duluth/Superior, MN, 2002

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