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Native Languages, Contrasting Trends

Aboriginal languages in Canada continue to decline, according to data released by Statistics Canada this week and discussed in this Canadian Press article . While there are some exceptions, fewer people who identify themselves as aboriginal said they could speak their ancestral tongue. The article also highlights attempts to develop aboriginal languages in classrooms.

In the United States, the 1,112-student Harbor Public School District in Michigan began offering a Native American language course for the first time this fall, according to a Jan. 15th article in the Petoskey News-Review. The grant-supported Anishinaabemowin class is offered in collaboration with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Educators in the district face the challenge of making materials from scratch and creating a curriculum without textbooks. If you’re curious about Anishinaabemowin, www.anishinaabemowin.org offers audio samples, including stories and nursery rhymes.

For additional information, the University of Southern California’s Center for Multilingual Multicultural Research hosts a list of Native American Language Resources including teaching resources and learning aids.

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