September 2, 2011

Passing on the native tongues

Passing on the native tongues
By Jerry W. Kram
Interim Editor

Having a common language can be part of what defines a people. The number of elders who are completely fluent in Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara have declined to a precious few. The Boys and Girls Club of Fort Berthold is working with the remaining speakers to help them train a new generation of fluent speakers to carry on the tradition and teach future generations.
The Master-Apprentice program has identified two “master speakers” of each language, said Izetta Hopkins, coordinitor for the Language Apprentice Project. Each of the six master speakers takes on apprentices to work with them intensively to master their tribal languages. As the apprentices become masters in their own right, the goal of the project is to have them take on their own apprentices to learn, teach and preserve the languages of the MHA Nation.
The Mandan and Arikara languages are in a crisis state, Hopkins said.
The six master speakers, Edwin Benson, Cory Spotted Bear, Delores Wilkinson, Dancing Eagle, Lida Bears Tail, and Delvin Driver, Jr. attended a training session at the end of August at the 4 Bears Lodge to learn the best ways to train their apprentices in their native tongues.

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