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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Video Documentary: "First Speakers: Restoring The Ojibwe Language" ~ Viewing The World Through Sound and Eyes Full of Language Pride

Video Documentary: "First Speakers: Restoring The Ojibwe Language".  Several languages a day are lost to our world, but everywhere individuals are choosing to preserve their cultural identify and heritage through revitalization projects. This is a ground breaking film about the creation of an experimental Ojibwe "language immersion school" to restore their language heritage. Exploring language modelling and immersion revitalization schools for children of all cultures. 

 Quote from their website; "As recent as World War II, the Ojibwe language (referred to as ojibwemowin in Ojibwe) was the language of everyday life for the Anishinaabe and historically the language of the Great Lakes fur trade.  Now this indigenous language from where place names like Biwabik, Sheboygan and Nemadji State Forest received their names is endangered. 

The loss of land and political autonomy, combined with the damaging effects of U.S. government policies aimed at assimilating Native Americans through government run boarding schools, have led to the steep decline in the use of the language.  Anton Treuer, historian, author and professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and featured in First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language, estimates there are fewer than one thousand fluent Ojibwe speakers left in the United States, mostly older and concentrated in small pockets in northern Minnesota with fewer than one hundred speakers in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota combined. 


Treuer is a part of a new generation of Ojibwe scholars and educators who are now racing against time to save the language and the well-being of their communities.  Narrated by acclaimed Ojibwe writer, Louise Erdrich, First Speakers tells their contemporary and inspirational story. Working with the remaining fluent Ojibwe speaking elders, the hope is to pass the language on to the next generation.  As told through Ojibwe elders, scholars, writers, historians and teachers, this original production reveals some of the current strategies and challenges that are involved in trying to carry forward the language. 



First Speakers takes viewers inside two Ojibwe immersion schools: Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion School on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bena, Minnesota and the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin. In both programs, students are taught their academic content from music to math entirely in the Ojibwe language and within the values and traditional practices of the Ojibwe culture. Unique to the schools is the collaboration between fluent speaking elders and the teachers who have learned Ojibwe as their second language.

First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language provides a window into their innovative and intergenerational learning experience and the language they are determined to save.

Article: The Circle "Twin Cities Public Television documentary First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language was awarded a MidWest Regional Emmy Award for Artistic Excellence in the Documentary-Cultural category. The one-hour program features the work of the Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion school and other schools and scholars in the region working to revitalize and restore the Ojibwe language. Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms participated in the film during late spring of 2010. At Niigaane, all academic and social content is taught through the medium of Ojibwe language. Through this style of teaching the Leech Lake community hopes to reclaim the Ojibwe language as a vital, necessary language for the coming generations.

The Emmy award is currently traveling on a "Miigwech Tour" to all of the sites that opened their doors as participants in the film. First stop has been at the Niigaane school in Bena, Minnesota, where the Niigaane Kindergarten through sixth grade students have been taking care of the award and talking about the importance of the Ojibwe language in today's world. The Emmy Award statue will be at Niigaane until January 6, 2012. Niigaane will host a feast and farewell to the beautiful statuette on that day at the Niigaane classrooms.

From there, the award will travel to Bemidji State University, the Red Lake Nation, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School Hayward Wisconsin, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, and to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of American Studies.


Many, many people contributed to the film and this is a great reminder of the strength and importance of Ojibwe language and culture today. The film was funded by an Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Fund grant to Twin Cities Public Television and the citizens of Minnesota with additional support provided by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants through the Minnesota Historical Society as a way to showcase Minnesota's cultural heritage and ongoing legacy. The film premiered November 2010 on Twin Cities Public Television, and can also be seen on local Minnesota Public Television stations."

More Videos via website "Indigenous People's Issues"

Photos - Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe Pow Wow Memorial Day 2013 and Men's Dance Competition