Reviving the ancient language of the Mohawks

How do you resurrect a dying language?

This is the question 19 people in a small Kahnawake classroom grapple with every day. Some of them have given up their studies, taken a leave of absence from work and sacrificed personal relationships so that, for two years, they can spend most of their time learning Kanien’kehá:ka — the language of their ancestors.

Over the span of the Mohawk immersion class, a few will quit and most will experience moments of near crippling self-doubt, but in the end they will emerge from the experience having regained a lost part of their identity.

And according to the class’ teachers, the real challenge begins when they leave the course. That’s when they’ll have to push themselves to keep practising, to keep seeking out other speakers and, ultimately, to pass the ancient language on to future generations. It is a heavy concept for a classroom full of young adults to fully grasp but it’s one they’re attacking with glee, five days a week, 10 months a year.

Read more: Montreal Gazette

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