Ojibwe Taught in Public Schools

Students studying in a library. (Image provided by PhotosToGo.)

A recent article written by Linda Grover for Budgeteer News describes how Ojibwe Language and Culture are taught in Duluth, MN public high schools. The curriculum is growing, with Ojibwe culture and history classes being added this year.  Both Native and non-Native students have the opportunity to learn Ojibwe language and culture in the classroom, just as they can any other “foreign” language.

In her article, Grover states, “This is the right thing to do. Ojibwe language, like all Native languages, has as its foundation the truths, values and spiritual ways of our people.”

The question of whether non-Native people should be encouraged (or even permitted) to learn Native languages is an important one.  Ms. Grover is clearly pleased that the Ojibwe language is being revitalized and taught, regardless of whether language learners are Ojibwe or not.

What do you think about this?  Do you feel members of other tribes should be able to learn your language in public schools?  What about non-Native individuals?  Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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7 Responses to Ojibwe Taught in Public Schools

  1. nicola says:

    My aunt who was a tribal elder and master speaker of our language felt that we should make every attempt to teach our people our language. When there was no one left to teach…then teach those who want to learn.

    My feeling is this, I believe we should keep our language within our tribe. Many thanks to those ethnographers who took the time to write/record our language because now, we are losing speakers at an alarming rate.

  2. judi says:

    The language has been taught here at Tulalip for sometime now. There are many children that speak the language, and their parents don’t know the language. I think is pretty cool. We still have a culture here, tho it is slightly different from what I remember when I was small. But at least they are trying to learn the way it used to be. There was a bill passed at the state legislature that history of the tribes near a school district, are to be added to the school ciricullum. It is a beginning..

  3. Modesta says:

    When I started learning our language my teachers were very open with the language. They did not tell anyone “no”. What they told me was that even a long time ago there were non-Indians that spoke our languages becuase they had to do business with us and in order to communicate with us they had to use our languages. They told me that for our language to be living it must be spoken by as many as possible, including non-Indians.
    When I teach language classes I try to keep an open mind like my language teachers have. In the end I think it will be nice to go someplace locally and be able to speak our language to who ever…..at least the language will be spoken.

  4. Gordon L. Bussell says:

    As both a speaker / teacher and native of two languages: 1. my father’s Hupa & 2. my mother’s Mattole . I speak Hupa where there are only 30-40 speakers, as for Mattole there is only one speaker at this time, me. I teach my mothers language to my people and others who are linked to the mattole thru marriage or are an Indian, first but not exclusively. But sacred talk should be kept to the Native people. daily talk may be offered more freely. this is the same for Hupa it is in the Hoopa High School as a fullfillment for foreign languages and is open to all. the sacred is kept seperate, even so some aspects are taught. But languages must be spoken to remain living. so I say things to people all the time in my languages first then English. After all our languages were here first.

  5. All because one non Indian knew our native language he was able to know what our non Emglish speaking grandmother needed at her home. He was raised around natives ( school mates) in his childhood and learned to understand the language. He was able to contact family members to let them know her needs or requests.I do believe we need to keep our language in the air and not keep it hidden away or we truely will lose our languages

  6. Lee Pepion says:

    I believe that the Blackfeet dilect is and has been taught in our public schools for some time. They also have published a dictionary and think is a great idea. I believe that we should teach all those that want to learn our ways. I am one of the founders of The Native American Business Alliance and at each function we have, we present something of our culture at each event. I believe we must teach those outside of our culture our ways to develop a better understanding of our culture.

  7. Kaye Rowland says:

    Our ancestors were forced to hide there language, taken from there homes, put into English speaking schools, beaten if they spoke our language! To the point that Native Families often turned to English language in fear their children would be take away from them! Well we are very strong people and we are now past it. My point being is that now that we no longer have to fear speaking as our ancestors did, then yes we should share with anybody and everybody that wants to learn. We need to bring it back before it is lost!

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