|Leech Lake Ojibwe Delegation to Washington 1899|
One of the main reasons that indigenous languages like Ojibwe have nearly disappeared throughout North America is due to early policies within the United States to assimilate Native Americans. After taking their lands, the government banned the practice of native traditional religious practices and established "English only" boarding schools which children were required to attend. The native languages that once echoed across the United States were being systematically scrubbed from the cultural landscape.
|Chippewa baby at a Minnesota rice farm, 1940|
Through this model, it is hoped that a new generation of "first speakers" will be established, children for whom Ojibwe is a primary language. Then the language, and the culture, may not be lost and stand a chance of surviving, to be passed on to the next generation.
"First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language" is a production of Twin Cities Public Television and will debut on November 1 at 8 p.m. on TPT 2.
Additionally, Dr. Anton Treuer’s book “Ojibwe in Minnesota” was recently named as the “Best Read in Minnesota 2010” by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Part of the “The People of Minnesota” book series, “Ojibwe in Minnesota” is just 122 pages, but is intended to help people understanding the complicated history of the Ojibwe people – their language, culture, economics and legalities.
[This article has been updated to include corrected information. Though Dr. Treuer is a main subject of the film, he did not produce it. It was produced and edited by John Whitehead. Thank you, John, for your comment!]