PAGE 19 MAZINA’IGAN FALL 2017 Bilingual education blooms at immersion schools Canada: recent survey tracks native language speakers Following the 2016 population census, Canadian authorities learned that many First Nations people are using indigenous languages at home. While French and English are the only officially recognized languages, Canada is home to 634 First Nations that speak more than 50 distinct languages. Cree is by far the most spoken native language with 83,985 Canadians, followed by 39,025 using Inuktitut. Ojibwemowin rounds out the top three with 21,800. A total of 228,770 said they speak a native language at home. Census officials note that indigenous language use is highest among younger generations. It’s a trend that rings true for Jordan Tabobondung from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, Ontario. “There’sbeenageneralpushinnativecommunitiestolearntheirlanguages,” saidTabodonung,aUniversityofWinnipeggraduatestudentand2017GLIFWC intern. “I’m amazed at how well really young kids speak—right in the 4-13 year-old range.” —CO Rasmussen Booch da-ganawendamang gidinwewininaan, miigaa-miinigoozwiziyanganishinaabewiyang.There was a time not long ago, when the vast majority of people living in this region would understand these words when spoken. Nowadays, a small fraction of the population understands or speaks Ojibwemowin. Boarding schools, forced assimilation and orga- nized religion are commonly blamed for the depletion of first language speakers throughout the country and more locally, Ojibwe Country. Many tribal communities have worked to incor- porate Ojibwemowin classes within their respective schools and districts. Others have taken a more direct route and established immersion schools on-reserva- tion, which promote the usage of only Ojibwemowin in the classroom. Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion School located on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation is an excellent example of a thriving immersion school. In a small public school in Duluth, Minnesota, they set out to prove that the average school district can do a lot to help revitalize a very significant way of life. Misaabekong Ojibwe Immersion Program was established just a few years ago and operates out of the Lowell Elementary School in Duluth, MN. With the exception of Art, Music, and Physical Education, all subjects are taught by qualified instructors in the language. Citing research that highlights the positive out- comes of bilingualism, the school and its administra- tion are also approaching Spanish in the same context. “Every child has the right to learn their own language, even if it’s not spoken much at home,” said Program Director William Howes. Accordingtoresearch,theimmersionexperience actually enhances English language development (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000). With twice as many synapses in the brain, the average child is developmentally equipped to learn languages. Edye Howes, the American Indian Education Coordinatorreiterates,“Thisisdefinitelyafamilycom- mitment. The families have to support the students in any way necessary and also stimulate the bilingualism concept even at home. The rewards and benefitsare tremendous and definitely outweigh the extra work.” The Misaabekong Immersion Program is still in its infancy, but the coordinators have great vision for theprogram,lookingtoexpandbeyondthegradelevels already developed. In fact, many immersion schools throughout the region are operating in the same man- ner. As a class graduates and moves to the next grade, staffandcurriculumdevelopersareworkingdiligently to develop the next stepping stones in curriculum. Regarding state standards and testing, immer- sion schools and programs like Misaabekong work throughout the year to make certain that curriculum standards and state standards are met—no different than any other public school. The most important dif- ference is that these particular schools are both saving and preserving a language tied to an old but thriving way of life. Booch da-ganawendamang gidinwewininaan, miigaa-miinigoozwiziyanganishinaabewiyang.Even though the Ojibwe language is very descriptive and somewhat difficult to translate into English, I’m sure the majority of folks can understand this: “We have to take care of our language, it’s what was given to us as Anishinaabe.” For a full citations and learning resources see • OJIBWEMOWIN • By Dylan Jennings, Staff Writer Nigig and friends are back! The Nenda-gikenda- mang Ningo-biboonagak (We Seek to Learn through- out the Year) set of Dag- waagin (Fall) booklets are hot off the press and being distributed to GLIFWC’s tribal communities! The Dagwaagin sto- rybook continues to fol- low Nigig and friends as they explore traditional Anishinaabe cultural activi- ties. Working together, the characters learn about play- ing lacrosse, harvesting manoomin (wild rice), and preparing food for the long winter. Fundedthroughagrant from ANA (Administration for Native Americans), the project aims to support Ojibwe language learning for children in grades K-5, promoting language and cultural literacy. Aswiththeprevioussets,Dagwaaginprovidesamonolingualstorybook,activ- ity book, and a bilingual parent/teacher answer book.An added resource, the www. glifwc-inwe.comwebsiteoffersinteractivelanguageactivitiesandaudio,aswellas PDFs of the four seasonal sets of booklets to download and customize for dialect differences,makingthisresourceevenmorebeneficialacrossAnishinaabe-akiing. Each of the 11 GLIFWC member tribes will receive 660 books: including 220 of the storybook, 220 of the workbook, and 220 of the parent/teacher edition. Communities will distribute the sets as they see fit to ensure that they reach the appropriate audience. Ojibwe language learners can always view and download the digital content via the website. For further information please contact Wesley Ballinger at munity dinner for the following evening. Over 100 participants from the com- munity crowded the elderly center for an amazing meal of cedar braised bison, maple roasted squash, wild green salad with berry sauce, wild rice, parsnips and hominy. Youth served the final dessert course which was a berry sorbet made from cranberries, honey and maple syrup. Bill Roundwind, a Bad River tribal member and elder reminisced about the dinner: “It was a delicious, flavorful dinner reminding us of the natural unpro- cessed healthy foods available and surrounding us in the lands and waters of this beautiful homeland.” The Sioux Chef team, on their journey to both educate and bring awareness back to the communities, has hopefully inspired both adults and youth in the area to makehealthierfoodchoices,andtolearnAnishinaabetraditions.Anishinaabegwere blessed with beautiful resources to live mino-bimaadizi and it’s time to revitalize one of the original forms of sovereignty, food sovereignty. For more information about the Sioux Chef, bookings or to preorder their brand new cookbook visit their website here: Sioux Chef (continued from page 16) Essential Ojibwemowin Gekinoo’amaaged—Teacher Misaabekong Immersion school staff and students gather around local Ojibwe artist Jonathan Thunder, who created illustrations for their Ojibwe reading books. (Misaabekong Immersion School photo)