Author hopes informal lesson book will help turn Indigenous language speakers into language teachers

February 29th, 2020 by An Ojibway language teacher and author is hoping that anyone who can speak an Indigenous language can use her new book to teach others. "It could be used by any group at all — Ojibway, Cree, Dene, Inuktitut — it'll be applicable to any language in the world," said Patricia Ningewance. Ningewance is from Lac Seul First Nation in northern Ontario and her new book is titled Reclaiming Our Territory, Word By Word: Grassroots Language Teaching. The book is meant to help guide fluent speakers, who may not be trained teachers, in how to pass on their language skills on in their families and the community. The book is written in English and lays out 63 lessons that are structured around everyday, practical conversations like 'Where do you live?' 'Where did you go?' 'Who do you love?' With the book, Ningewance is hoping that speakers looking to teach others informally won't worry about whether they can read or write their language, or can explain the grammar. She just wants people to begin to speak the language with others. Inside her new book, Ningewance writes "we fluent speakers will be gone in 20 years or less so we must teach the language to the next generation." Becoming a student again It's been over 30 years since Ningewance released her first book: Survival Ojibwe: Learning Conversational Ojibwe in Thirty Lessons. For years, she has taught beginner/introductory, intermediate and advanced Ojibway courses at the university level and is constantly thinking about better ways to teach the language. Read more: CBC

One of the world’s oldest languages teaches hidden life lessons

February 11th, 2017 by If, a few millennia ago, you had been hunting a woolly mammoth, you would have discussed your plan of attack in a version of a language that is still alive today—though just barely. Ojibwe language expert James Vukelich (Kaagegaabaw) visited Stillwater Public Library in January to share some of that language with attendees of the Native American Parent Advisory Committee’s latest education session. Vukelich, who works as an indigenous language specialist for Minneapolis Public Schools, has spent years working to record and preserve the ancient Ojibwe language, which has been passed through generations of indigenous North American people since the Ice Age. Instilled in that language are the basic teachings of the Ojibwe philosophy and way of life. This concept is also known as “The Seven Generations.” The Seven Generations is a belief held by not only Ojibwe people, but a number of indigenous tribes. Vukelich said that the Ojibwe language is as different from Dakota as German is from Chinese, yet this concept of seven generations is shared across those tribal differences. It teaches that every action a person takes will have an impact on the next seven generations that follow. Read more: The Lowdown - St. Croix Valley Area