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Supporting Minnesota's Indigenous Languages

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I'm always interested in how speakers of languages other than English are keeping those languages alive, since the pressure to use English in this country often overshadows efforts to help people maintain their native languages.

The Minnesota Humanities Center, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is one source of funding for projects to revitalize indigenous languages and culture in Minnesota. The center recently announced $5,000 grants to six different educational projects.

The projects are expected to produce an illustrated alphabet book in Dakota, a children's book written in Ojibwe and Dakota featuring an elder who is fluent in Ojibwe, publications of several volumes of an academic journal in the Ojibwe language, Ojibwe family language kits, and 10 early-reader books in Ojibwe.

I'm glad someone is looking out for the revitalization of these less-commonly-spoken languages. What a boring world it would be if everyone spoke only English.

1 Comment

Hi Mary Ann,

I think this is a great and really relevant topic in today's world (and in this country, with Native American languages especially). Language revival is definitely at the forefront of many communities around the world because retaining their language is a huge part of their national identity. The hard part for the less-commonly-spoken languages is that more often than not there is no written form of that language, and to make matters worse, many times it is not even being taught in schools...when a community engages in a language revival campaign, it can also be met with resistance by other communities who have since developed/learned a more prominent language.

You are absolutely right, though, that it would certainly be boring if English was the only language out there...check out the wikipedia entry for more information on language revival and related links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_revival

Getting the funding for language-related educational projects, as you mention in your post, is probably the best way to assure that a language stays alive...

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