Language RevitalizationTreaty #3: Strategies for schools to improve      Ojibway language revitalization                Fa...
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Fay Davis Zoccole 18                                                                   Language RevitalizationBibliography...
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Language Revitalization in Treaty #3 Schools


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Do we need the Ojibway language in today's modern world? The answer to this is "Yes." The language not only tells who are people are but tells the exact location of where they live through various dialects in the Ojibway language. The Treaty #3 area must incorporate plans to revitalize the language. Here is one opinion on how to support this endeavor....

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Language Revitalization in Treaty #3 Schools

  1. 1. Language RevitalizationTreaty #3: Strategies for schools to improve Ojibway language revitalization Fay Davis-Zoccole 0009024 Dr. Judy Iseke December 13, 2011
  2. 2. Fay Davis Zoccole 2 Language Revitalization Notes about the writer: My name is Fay Davis Zoccole. I am from Lac Seul FirstNation. During the past 12 years, I have been a teacher within the Treaty #3 Area.Prior to taking this course, Cultivating Native Wellbeing, I was not interested in learningto speak the language of my people. I believed this to be a language that was notneeded for the modern world. However, about mid-way through this course, I began tosee the importance of relearning the Ojibway language. I also thought about thecommunities in the Treaty #3 area and began to recall the strengths of the variousschools where I had the opportunity to learn about our proud Ojibway people. Theknowledge that is included in this paper was written mostly about my experiences. Ihope to not only illuminate what kinds of practices and routines are carried out in theschools but also offer suggestions of where we can go from here, starting today… Sandra Indian of Onigaming First Nation said that Ojibway is a “heart language.”(personal communication, April 2009). This language is life to the Ojibway people. Theterm, Ojibway, explains who a people are, and the dialect explains where the speakersare from. The people call themselves Anishinawbe which means “First people” or“Original people.” Each word holds so much meaning that English cannot ever begin toexplain the richness and depth of the stories in each word. For example, the word,“Meshake” is not only a family name but tells the story of the hovering and the stillnessof a dragon-fly. Therefore, the vastness of the Ojibway language is indeed spoken fromthe heart of the Anishawbe people and is clear and concise to the listener. Theproblem is the fluent speakers of Ojibway language are dwindling and communities are
  3. 3. Fay Davis Zoccole 3 Language Revitalizationfacing near extinction. The language is also threatened. Dr. Ethel Gardner (2010)states: “After 30 years of language revitalization effort, the Treaty 3 Tribal Councilshave failed to produce any new Ojibwe speakers”(page 1). As such, this paper will seekto answer the question: How can community schools promote and encourage languagerevitalization in the Treaty #3 Territory? Further discussion will also expand on ideassuch as what supports need to be put in place to support the school staff and how toprepare our students in their future as fluent Ojibway speakers. Seeing that the Ojibway language lends understanding of where a people arefrom, it is important to learn about the land of the Treaty #3 people. Place – or sense of place -- …suggests the concepts, memories, histories, ideas, emotions, relationships, identities (both individual and community) and objects associated with a particular physical space…Indigenous people are a people of Place, and the nature of place is embedded in their language. (Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota, page 8)The following is a map of the 28 communities (see Figure 11) included in the Treaty #3area:
  4. 4. Fay Davis Zoccole 4 Language Revitalization Figure 1- Map of Treaty #3 area showing individual communities2According to the legend of the map, the Treaty #3 area stretches from Upsala toSaugeen to Red Lake and spills over the Manitoba border, stopping at the Americanborder. The First Nation communities that are part of Treay #3 include: Sagkeeng,Wabaseemong, Washagamasi Bay, Iskatewizaagegan, Shoal Lake #40, NorthwestAngle #33, Buffalo Point, Big Grassy, Big Island, Onigaming, Northwest Angle #37,Naotkamegwanning, Wauzhusk Onigum, Ochichagwebabigoining, Grassy Narrows,Wabaskang, Eagle Lake, Wabigoon Lake, Lac Des Mille Lacs, Nickousemenecaning,Seine River, Lac La Croix, Lac Seul and Saugeen. As such, most of these First Nationreserves have an elementary school as part of their community. A few of thesecommunities also have high schools for secondary students to attend. As one becomes
  5. 5. Fay Davis Zoccole 5 Language Revitalizationmore aware of the diversities and richness of the Ojibway language and the culture ofeach of the 28 communities within the Treaty #3 area, one wonders what has causedthis great language loss for the Ojibway people. Evidence of the onslaught on the Ojibway culture and language is evidentthrough the many years of colonization, genocide and oppression of the Ojibway nation.The residual effects of the residential school are still alive and have deeply wounded thepeople in such a way that this hurt is transferred through shame, despair, alcoholism,drug abuse, and a sense of hopelessness. A repetitive story has been intertwined andresounded for the Ojibway people as stories are shared about how parents wereencouraged to teach their children English first as if to give their child a good start in lifeso that when they attended school, the young students were suppose to make aseamless transition into kindergarten. As a result, many Ojibway parents did not teachtheir children to speak the native tongue because they felt it was in the best interest oftheir children to speak English only. This was done as a means of protection becauseparents did not want their children to be at the receiving end of being beaten in Englishonly residential schools. However, in spite of this marred history, the people within theTreaty #3 area as well as other Aboriginal groups have began the process of reclaimingtheir language. They are working towards revitalizing the Ojibway way of knowing thatincludes language fluency. Interestingly, there is a way to gauge how a community is doing with respect tolanguage loss. In the “Fishman’s Graded Intergeneration Disruption Scale,” JoshFishman (1991) designed a continuum with eight stages with the eighth stage being
  6. 6. Fay Davis Zoccole 6 Language Revitalizationclosest to extinction and the first stage being closest to survival. The continuum goesas follows:  Stage eight – only a few elders still speak the language.  Stage seven—only adults beyond childbearing age still speak Ojibway.  Stage six – there is still some intergenerational use of Ojibway in the homes.  Stage five – Ojibway is still very much alive in the community, but it is still the minority language spoken.  Stage four – Ojibway is required in elementary schools as the language of instruction in all subject areas.  Stage three – the language is used at the workplace among employees (but not with supervisors) in the community.  Stage two – Ojibway is used by some of the personnel at The Grand Treaty #3 Council and by some mass media (like the radio station) in the community.  Stage one – Ojibway is used by The Grand Treaty #3 Council, band offices as well as, all higher education Institutes.By referencing the scale, communities and schools can see where their Ojibwaylanguage skills are leveled and then plans can be made to fix the areas that needimprovement with respect to Ojibway revitalization. Ensuring the survival of the Ojibway language contributes to the survival of thepeople. The residential school did it’s best to destroy the Ojibway language, culture andtraditions. However, there is resistance on the part of the people in Treaty#3 as they
  7. 7. Fay Davis Zoccole 7 Language Revitalizationare gaining strength and are in the midst of language revitalization. There is a beliefthat if Anishinawbe children speak their language, this very skill would assist them tobecome better learners of mainstream education: …language immersion has the potential to address the achievement gap for …Indian students…it gives the students an entire new skill set. It offers the brain development and mental acuity benefits notable in much research on bi-lingual education. It also consistently raises the level of student engagement in classroom activities – an important factor in academic achievement. (Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization In Minnesota, page 11)In addition to closing academic learning gaps, the Ojibway language helps shape achild’s understanding of the world. This Ojibway world view is at the central core ofbeing an Anishinawbe person, who is balanced in all things related to living life. In1992, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) summarized the importance of Aboriginallanguages as follows: The Aboriginal Languages were given by the Creator as an integral part of life. Embodied in Aboriginal languages is our unique relationship to the Creator, our attitudes, beliefs, values, and the fundamental notion of what is truth. Aboriginal language is an asset to one’s own education, formal and informal. Aboriginal language contributes to greater pride in the history and culture of the community; greater involvement and interest of parents in the education of their children, and greater respect for Elders. Language is the principal means by which culture is accumulated, shared and transmitted from generation to generation. The key to identity and retention of culture is one’s ancestral language.
  8. 8. Fay Davis Zoccole 8 Language Revitalization (Mandate, Assembly of First Nations)Thus, each community has a part in supporting children to grow in a balanced andhealthy way through language revitalization and maintenance especially withincommunity schools. Schools are the heart of Treaty#3 communities. It is here that Elders, teachers,cultural teachers support staff and parents need to work together to implementlanguage revitalization activities and promote pride in the Ojibway culture. According toa Language Survey completed by Dr. Ethel Gardner, the following three activities areimplemented in most schools. (Anishinaabemowin Anjimaamino Bijigadde GrandCouncil Treaty #3 Report) 1. Ojibway Language Class: Language instruction is provided for each class from grades Kindergarten to grade 8. 2. Cultural Events: Activities like community events such as feasts, ceremonies and powwows are included. 3. Elders: Most elders engage in school activities upon invitation or offering of tobacco.From personal experience, seven other activities that some of the schools haveincluded are as follows: Opening Exercises: The principal has the entire school body sing along with each other while an audio recording plays over the intercom to the “Oh Canada” anthem as the lyrics are in the Ojibway language. Also, the school has included an Ojibway prayer for students to recite at the beginning of each day. In addition
  9. 9. Fay Davis Zoccole 9 Language Revitalizationto this, students have given the date and weather of the day over the intercom,all in the Ojibway language.After-school activities: Students enjoy after school activities that include culturalactivities such as, drumming, pow-wow dancing like fancy shawl or jingle dress.Older students enjoy crafts like beading or leather work. There is a specialbonding that takes place while students are speaking Ojibway and learning moreabout their language. Sometimes, elders have come to the school to request theassistance of students when building a sweat lodge or learning lodge. Thestories that are exchanged during this time between the students and eldersbring healing and build a common bond between the young and the elderly.However, not all students or communities follow the traditional way, some areinvolved Christian activities. In this way, students enjoy listening to a First Nationpastor and often the elder reinforces the teachings. It is beautiful to hear hymnssang in the Ojibway language. The important trait is respect that is conveyed ineither the Traditional way or Christian spirituality..Language Nests: A group of fluent Ojibway speakers including LanguageInstructors, teachers, Elders and parents gather to document stories, legendsand teachings as well as engineer new words to fit with today’s modernlanguage. For example: television, when translated from English into Ojibway,would be interpreted as the “box that talks.” The importance of word-smithing isto translate words that are relevant to today’s vocabulary especially when usingterms related to science or technology.
  10. 10. Fay Davis Zoccole 10 Language RevitalizationOjibway Language Spirit Days: Spirit Days are special days for stories, puppetshows, poems recited or conversation practice in the Ojibway language to betold before a smaller class of students or to elders in the community. For eachdays, the school plans ahead so students can work together in each class to: a)introduce themselves, including their clan; b) tell the date and weather; c)name what community you are from, and ask others what communities they arefrom. As such, this list could go on depending on the needs or interests of theschool. The important skill to stress is to get students to practice speaking inOjibway and listening to other speakers.Language Camps: This is a great time to implement activities such as gamesand sharing the history of the community to the students. The use of theOjibway language is encouraged for the students to practice with each other andthe ask questions from the Elders. Be sure to incorporate other cultural activitieslike net-making, fishing and smoking fish, bannock making, hide tanning, etc.Other cultural protocols: Some students have participated in a “NamingCeremony” where they are given an Indian name. The people who have giventhis name to the child is called a “Wa a”. Often the “Wa a” attends schoolfunctions such as parent/teacher interviews, concerts, science fairs and IPRCmeetings, etc. Allowances on the part of the school will be made to welcome theWa a especially if the parents have made a special request to the school. Therole of the Wa a is special one between them and the child. Should the childrequire extra help in life or if the child is not making good choices in life, the Waa has the responsibility to offer guidance.
  11. 11. Fay Davis Zoccole 11 Language Revitalization Ojibway Youth Apprenticeship Program: An apprenticeship program would include a group made up of a small number of approximately ten high school students who sign up or register for an intensive six week immersion program within the community. The language instruction includes an instructor and elders which would be a teaching team. Importantly, “…the (Ojibway) language is not a subject but a medium in which all instruction takes place” (Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota, page 10). The reason for having a small number of students would be to ensure authentic learning and practice is taking place in a safe, close-knit environment. Furthermore, the students would achieve extra credit towards an elective if desired and would be added to their OSR (Ontario Student Record). As previously discussed, Josh Fieldmen designed a gauge to measure languageloss for all languages that are near extinction. The question is: What do communitiesor schools in the Treaty #3 area do when they have placed themselves on theFieldmen’s continuum? Following a series of symposiums held in Arizona in 1994, JonRayner took the following notes as suggestions for what any indigenous language groupcould implement the following suggested interventions to strengthen Ojibway languageskills: Table 1: Interventions to Strengthen Language Current Status of Suggested Interventions to Strengthen Language Language Stage 8: Only a few elders speak Implement Hintons (1994) "Language the language. Apprentice" Model where fluent elders are teamed one-on-one with young adults who want to learn the language. Dispersed, isolated elders can be connected by phone to
  12. 12. Fay Davis Zoccole 12 Language Revitalization teach others the language (Taff, 1997).Stage 7: Only adults beyond child Establish "Language Nests" after the Maoribearing age speak the language. and Hawaiian, models where fluent older adults provide pre-school child- age children are immersed in their indigenous anguage (Anonby, this volume; Fishman, 1991).Stage 6: Some intergenerational Develop places in community whereuse of language language is encouraged, protected, and used exclusively. Encourage more young parents to speak the indigenous language in home with and around their young children.Stage 5: Language is still very Offer literacy in minority language. Promotemuch alive and used in voluntary programs in the schools and othercommunity. community institutions to improve the prestige and use of the language. Use language in local government functions, especially social services. Give recognition to special local efforts through awards, etc.Stage 4: Language is required in Improve instructional methods utilizing TPRelementary schools (Asher, 1996), TPR-Storytelling (Cantoni, this volume) and other immersion teaching techniques. Teach reading and writing and higher level language skills (Heredia & Francis, 1997). Develop two-way bilingual programs where appropriate where non- speaking elementary students learn the indigenous language and speakers learn a national or inter- national language. Need to develop indigenous language text- books to teach literacy and academic subject matter content.Stage 3: Language is used in Promote language by making it the languageplaces of business and by of work used throughout the communityemployees in less specialized (Palmer, 1997). Develop vocabulary so thatwork areas. workers in an office could do their day- work using their indigenous language (Anonby, this volume)Stage 2: Language is used by Promote use of written form of language forlocal government and in the mass government and business dealings/ in the minority community. Promote indigenous language newsletters, newspapers, radio stations, and television stations.Stage 1: Some language use by Teach tribal college subject matter classes inhigher levels of government in the language. Develop an indigenoushigher education. language oral and written literature through dramatic presentations and publications. Give tribal/ national awards for indigenous language publications and other notable efforts to promote indigenous languages. Jon Rayner: Some basics of Indigenous Language Revitalization
  13. 13. Fay Davis Zoccole 13 Language RevitalizationAs mentioned before, table 1 offers workable suggestions to revitalize the Ojibwaylanguage. The key is to empower Ojibway children and parents to encourage them touse the Ojibway language on a daily basis.. Teachers teaching within the Treaty #3 Territory should have some expectationsset by the policy of each community’s school to include Ojibway language into everydaycurriculum in some way or another. It is vital to include ALL teachers in ALL subjectareas to support language revitalization initiativesbecause the present structure ofteaching the Ojibway language as a subject “makes no difference in creating new andfluent speakers” (Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development). As such,teachers need support through various ways to teach the language to students. A list to“Identify curriculum needs” is included in the “Dakota and Ojibwe LanguageRevitalization in Minnesota.” Key findings as a result of a survey identify the followingneeds: 1. Accredited immersion-specific training: Schools could encourage teachers to take university courses that teach Ojibway. It is hoped schools could cover tuition and educational expenses to support staff training. Ojibway language courses provide opportunities for teachers to maintain and improve on their own second language acquisition proficiency. 2. Community-based training: This resource would be probably could be met by schools partnering with Tribal Councils. Activities like short “Lunch and Learns” could be set up by the Language Teacher of Tribal Councils such as Bimose or AKRC (Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council). Due to these
  14. 14. Fay Davis Zoccole 14 Language Revitalization organizations already having a presence in the communities, this program would be a great way to utilize these resources in a school atmosphere.3. Story telling techniques: First Steps Literacy Continuum offers excellent ideas for story telling techniques. Some teachers in the Treaty #3 Area have already been trained in this program and will recognize that this continuum allows teachers to use learning in combination with the Ojibway language. The strength of the “First Steps Continuum” equips teachers with strategies that first allow students to tell stories orally and then brings them to the place where they can write out words, sentences and finally, stories, using the correct structures for writing stories, instructions, recipes and essays.4. Vocabulary reinforcement for teaching across content areas: Many teachers are already aware of content word walls and could put up an “Ojibway Word Wall”. As well, teachers could instruct students to have an “Ojibway Words” personal dictionary. The idea is to get students to not just keep words but to also use the Ojibway words throughout the day.5. Assessment techniques: The question is: How is data collected to interpret student learning? Thus, it would be beneficial for teachers to learn a variety of assessment techniques that include indirect and direct evaluation methods to support students learning the Ojibway language. Some current suggestion within the Treaty #3 schools include Ojibway spelling tests, recitals of poetry, prayers or songs, etc. Further data to show evidence of student learning could be collected in the form of a portfolio or presentations completed in the Ojibway
  15. 15. Fay Davis Zoccole 15 Language Revitalization language. Other practices include oral presentations made to parents by having children read in Ojibway to various family members. An additional assessment piece could include an Ojibway portion with the current report card that goes out three times a year. Of course, previous work will need to developed by the Education Department at The Grand Council #3 to identify what each grade should know and learn. Again, teacher will need to be trained in what this process looks like. For example, Kawayaciiwin Education Resource Center in Sioux Lookout has resources what the Kindergarten class should know in a packet that includes: a Teacher’s handbook, picture cards and a report card based on Oji-Cree words and phrases which students are required to learn. The categories for learning are: 1) Vocabulary development, 2) Color concepts, 3) Rote counting, 4) Shape concepts, 5) Listening comprehension 6) Syllabics recognition, 7) Name writing, 8) Drawing a person to include body parts. As such, the teachers would be able to gauge the language growth with tools such as these that would be beneficial for data collection as required by Treaty #3 schools within each community.6. Teacher training: Professional development will be required to ensure success of Ojibway language revitalization. Training in this area is just as important as learning in other key subject areas. All teachers need to be a part of this important training especially because most staff members are not fluent speakers in the Ojibway language and this can be an added stress to teachers with full responsibilities in the classroom. The role of fluent-speaking elders is vital to support teachers with this new endeavor.
  16. 16. Fay Davis Zoccole 16 Language RevitalizationAs stated before, the above list is merely a place to begin to encourage, support andprovide training for teachers and other staff members. The Grand Council Treaty #3and the schools within the Treaty #3 area should add their own ideas to take ownershipfor their part in language revitalization. While training is being provided for school staff,the schools could also extend these learning opportunities to other departments in thecommunities. It is clear that future directions which promote language revitalization is requiredwithin Treaty #3 Schools. What are the Ojibway people without their language? Thisquestion was posed on a Facebook page and a few responses as were follows: a) TheOjibway culture shapes the way Anishnawbe view the world. It is part of our DNA. b)The language is what connects us to who we are as Anishinaabe people, without it weare just part of the English speaking society. These responsibes indicate that theOjibway language and culture go hand in hand. We need to respect and live both ofthese or else we will eventually lose both. Future plans must be made andimplemented to revive the Ojibway language; however much support is required tokeep “language revitalization” in the forefront. The Dakota and Ojibwe LanguageRevitalization In Minnesota suggests a “Twenty-five year strategic plan for languagerevitalization.” To this date, no such plan is known among the general population withinthe Treaty #3 communities. Although it is clear that future directions promoting livespan approaches to language revitalization are needed with Treaty #3 Schools, specificexpectations need to be written by the people themselves to ensure input of thecommunities, including the elders. It seems that the schools have some resources,however; a more central and well-defined place would be helpful to pull all these
  17. 17. Fay Davis Zoccole 17 Language Revitalizationresources to make it easy for communities to access them. Therefore, to honor thesovereignty of the Treaty #3 territory, it would be beneficial for communities to work incollaboration to build a team-working environment and facilitate learning in the Ojibwaylanguage revitalization.
  18. 18. Fay Davis Zoccole 18 Language RevitalizationBibliographyAssembly of First Nations (AFN). http://www.afn.caDakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota. Volunteer Working Group on Dakota and Ojibwe Language and Ojibwe Language Revitalization and Preservation.. 20and%20Ojibwe%20Language%20Report%20to%20the%20Legislature- final.pdfFishman, Joshua. Fishman’s Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale., Dr. Ethel. Preserving the Ojibwe Language. http//, Sandra. Quote: “Ojibway is a heart language.” 2011.John Reyhner . Some basics of Indigenous Language Revitalization. . Education Resource Centre Revitalization. Wipikedia. Langauge – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.orgTreaty #3 Area Map.“We have kept our part of the Treaty” The Anishinaabe Understanding of Treaty#3. The-Treaty-Booklet.pdf