Keeping the Ojibwe native language alive

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Ojibwe language has been called by many names including Anishinaabemowin, Ojibwe, Ojibway, Ojibwa, Southwestern Chippewa, and Chippewa. It is a Central Algonquian language spoken by the Anishinaabe. It is centered around the Great Lakes homeland of the Ojibwe people. It is now a certificate program offered by Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The schools resource center’s mission is to empower and engage people to share stories that celebrate indigenous cultures, inspire the community and honor the Anishinaabe.

“Mostly its people that are really excited about learning the language. I would say that it’s just important for history, for our culture, for who we are as indigenous people. It’s an integral part. You can’t really have a culture without the language and vice versa,” says Michelle Goose, a language instructor at the school.

The preservation of the language is critical. Many people are unaware of Indigenous languages and the Center saw the need for that. In 2011, with funding available through Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and Title III, FDLTCC created the Ojibwemowining Language and Culture Resource Center.  The Ojibwemowining Resource Center allows students, staff, faculty and community members to have a designated space for smaller group work and gatherings, surrounded by the area’s largest collection of contemporary Ojibwe art immersed in an environment with the language of the Anishinaabe. The impact on this cultural preservation has been vital.

“If I didn’t have my language, I’d feel kind of lost without it and not really have much of a sense of direction. So it’s really important to not just keep the language surviving, but it’s for the survival of our people. Maybe there’s a lot of people that still kind of feel that. And so they are just kind of floating around and not really fitting in, and I think the language and the culture can really help,” Goose continues.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is hoping to have the class go from a certificate program to a major in the near future.