Fond du Lac Tribal College
Language Preservation and Education. $550,000 the first year and $550,000 the second year are for grants for programs that preserve Dakota and Ojibwe Indian languages and to foster educational programs in Dakota and Ojibwe languages.
Project staff successfully planned and executed all seven of the immersion weekends originally proposed. The seekend occurred from Friday evening through Sunday afternoons at the U of M Cloquet Forestry Center. Typically three elder-first speakers
one faculty instructor
three staff participants and twelve to fourteen student participants attended for the entire weekend and spoke only Ojibwe. Most participants were college students studying the language or Ojibwe language teachers in college programs or immersion programs. Lectures
small group interaction
a nd outings in the surrounding woods and fields comprised the activites of the weekends. The Ojibwe language instructor at FDLTCC
and a group of 3-4 beginning level language students joined the group of intermediate to advanced college students and Ojibwe language teachers on Saturday afternoon and occasionally into Saturday evenings. Combining these two objectives has proven to be the best way to utilize the resources available to provide an immersion experience to a wide range of levels of language learners. The immersion weekends provided the students and staff with opportunities to work with a total of eleven fluent first language speakers. This in intself was quite remarkable. These speakers included elders with whom the majority of students had already worked with during hte three week immersion academy in Summer of 2011. The sense of community that developed helped everone feel more comfortable with the immersion experience
which can be overwhelming at times. Project staff also brought in new first speakers to expose the students to a variety of dialects and expand our growing network of resource people. The first speakers will be valuable teachers and resource persons in the uupcoming immersion academy to be held July 8
2012. Fluent first language speakers during the weekends included: Mary and Leonard Moose
Rose Marie Allen
and Eugene Stillday. The connections formed with these first language speakers are some of the most important outcomes of these weekends. Their vast knowledge of the Ojibwe language and eagerness to pass it on to younger learners made them a critical part of this immersion program and we look forward to more work with them as we move forward. U of M's faculty membert
Dr. Brendan Fairbanks particpated actively in the immersion weekends
assisting project staff with planning and facilitating the sessions. Professor Fairbanks also provided grammatical instruction during the evenings when students were no longer working with first speakers. This provided a nice balance of hearing
and grammatical instruction through the day. Professor Fairbanks's involvment and knowledge of second language acquisition helped to enhance the immersion experience for all and his dedicated involvement was appreciated by everyone. The second volume of Awesiiyensag
entitled Naadamaading: Dibaajimowinan Ji-nisdotaading is in the final stages of publication. As with the earlier volume
this collection of stories depicts Ojibwe beliefs and cultural values in lively stories about animals that represent each traditional clan. During the MIAC grant period
and final preparation for printing has been completed. The manuscript is now at the printer. All encumbrances and payment of contracts have been completed and the book will be distributed this summer and fall. Complimentary copies will be distributed to Ojibwe teachers in immerion programs and local schools and discounted copies will be sold to schools
and other language programs.
The Fond du Lac Tribal College will provide two-day language immersion weekends for students and teachers having intermediate level fluency. They will be offered one weekend each month for eight months from September 2011 through April 2012. The weekends will focus on participatory activities including individual and small group discussions, skits, meal preparation, games, and field trips to seasonal camps. A wing of the college dormitory will also be set aside for language students to speak Ojibwe together and participate in language enrichment programming.
Minnesota’s most enduring languages are in danger of disappearing. Without timely intervention, the use of Dakota and Ojibwe languages – like indigenous languages throughout the globe -- will decline to a point beyond recovery.