Monica Whitepigeon in Native Currents. Discussion »
CHICAGO Over the past couple of decades, America has encouraged its citizens to break away from its monolingual roots and encourage a second language.
Anishinaabe Family Language and Culture Camp
More and more, parents have been speaking a second language at home while their children learn English at school. This has promoted higher learning as well as multiculturalism.
The Anishinaabe of the Great Lakes region are no exception. Notable efforts have been made to keep the Ojibwe language alive and well in the youth by means of two schools, Waadookodaading Ojibwe and Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig Niigaane. These two language immersion schools have been advocating their students to be fluent in Ojibwe and English.
“As we work to pass the precious gift of language on to the next generation, intrinsic to the gift we want to give them is a sense of self and a way of life,”
says Janis Fairbanks, PhD Candidate at MSU concentrating on Ojibwe language, literature and history, member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, and board member of Anishinaabemowin Teg, Inc.
A recent study by Dr. Nina Kraus of Northwestern University showed a relationship between the auditory brainstem response and being bilingual. Two tests were performed with scalp electrodes attached to the students to measure the brain circuit activity that processes complex sounds.
Forty-eight teens were selected for the study, 23 of whom were bilingual. Out of the two tests performed, the bilingual students proved to have higher intensity of auditory brainstem response. In other words, bilingual students were able to differentiate key words and phrases better than monolingual students. The results showed that bilingual students are better at multitasking as well.
Learning and Fun
“Bilingualism serves as enrichment for the brain and has real consequences when it comes to executive function, specifically attention and working memory,”
So, not only does being bilingual have benefits for the brain, it also helps keep strong cultural values and pride alive. Many different Natives from all around feel this way and want to encourage the younger generations to help keep Native languages from dying out.
“I was told one time that our language 'Anishinaabemowin' is one of the most difficult languages to learn and is one of the most intelligent languages in the world. After hearing that I felt so proud of who I am,”
says Kenny Neganigwane Pheasant, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, who has conducted Anishinaabe Family Language/Culture camp for the past 18 years. This year's camp will be July 27 - 29 in Manistee, Michigan.
It is important to remember that the Native languages have not completely faded away. There are many books, classes and schools to help keep the Anishinaabe languages alive and evolve.
posted May 12, 2012 8:50 am edt