Metro State University
$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.
Students awarded scholarships through the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Grant enrolled in the Ojibwe 100 and Dakota 100 classes taught at Metropolitan State University. Both OJIB 100 and DKTA 100 were successfully offered Junly 8 through August 15th in a language immersion format
meeting multiple evenings each week. Ojibwe 100 enrolled 11 students and was taught by University of Minnesota instructor Brendan Fairbanks. Dakota 100 enrolleld 14 students and was taught by University of Minnesota instructor (Wayne) Joe Bendickson. Across all of the classes
instructors were supported in teh development of course content and materials. Dakota 100 and Ojibwe 100 uksed D2L (Desire to Learn
software package for courses) websites to provide additional instructional content to students. The web-based language learning website for Dakota http://dakota.metrostate.edu/ was developed for use by students as well as the general public. The site features a wealth of language development tools including video clips of the alphabet
and information about culture and history. Website developer and author
included video clips (also available on YouTube) to expand the reach of this educational venture. The youth classes in Dakota nd Ojibwe were offered July 8 through through August 15
three days weekly
and ran concurrently with the for-credit uiversity classes. Youth particpated in classes that were designed to be interactive and engaging as they were offered in the evening from 6-8 pm. Bernadette (Brenda) Cisneros led teh Dakota youth classes
and Andrea Fairbanks led the Ojibwe youth classes
and coordinated class activities with three Institute for Community Engagment and Scholarship (ICES) work study coordinators. The ICES Associate Director managed the coordination of contracts
supplies and snacks for the children's classes
and the ICES work study coordinators brought materials
supplies and snacks to each youth session at the Midway campus. The youth workshop evaluations were overall positive and indicate many students did not know any Ojibwe or Dakota words prior to attending class
can now speak more Ojibwe and Dakota words due to the workshops and indicated they would like to take more Ojibwe and Dakota language classes.
The purpose of this grant is to create a clear pathway for college students to achieve fluency in the Ojibwe language and to graduate prepared teachers of the Ojibwe language with Kindergarten through 12th Grade teaching certifications. This will be done by expanding the curriculum to expand the University’s Ojibwe language offerings, building the University and K-12 Tribal/Immersion/Ojibwe-teaching schools partnerships for greater language fluency, and producing more fluent and well prepared graduates.
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.
These languages embody irreplaceable worldviews. They express, reflect, and maintain communal connections and ways of understanding the world. Deeper than the disuse of vocabulary or grammar, the loss of an indigenous language is destruction of a complex system for ordering the relationships among people and the natural world, for solving social problems, and connecting people to something beyond themselves.