Waqnahwew Ben Grignon and others in the Menominee Country faced a issue like most Native American nations: With every single era, their language was disappearing.
So, they launched a college to teach small children the language.
In 2017, the Menominee Country started off a language immersion classroom at its daycare heart. Then this year, the Menominee Indian College District created a pre-K and kindergarten constitution school. The new university is called Kaehkēnawapatāēq, which indicates, “We find out by observing.”
“When the immersion program to start with begun, there have been really number of, if any, young children under 5 who ended up being elevated in the language,” Grignon mentioned. “And now we have a populace listed here at this university of 33 college students who will be totally immersed in our language and in our working day treatment and Head Commence.”
Grignon is the Menominee Nation’s language and culture coordinator. He recently spoke about the new faculty with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Early morning Show.” One particular of the school’s Menominee language immersion instructors, Kākekāēcewan Kara Besaw, also joined the dialogue to examine preserving the tribe’s lifestyle by way of its language.
This job interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Kate Archer Kent: Ben, What is the following stage listed here with the constitution school?
Waqnahwew Ben Grignon: We are continuing their education and learning procedure. A ton of our youngsters have been immersed in the language given that delivery. So we’re seeking to move alongside with their immersion practical experience and their language mastering. And so we are starting off this year with pre-K and K. Two classrooms.
And each and every calendar year, for the following handful of a long time, we’re likely to be introducing on an additional classroom, a different grade level.
KAK: What does it come to feel like in these to start with couple of days that this constitution faculty is open up?
WBG: Individually, I really don’t know how to get ready for this. You know, I feel like I am prepared. But coming again to a common thought of what Menominee schooling is, is one thing that hasn’t been done since, you know, likely ahead of the boarding universities.
So, figuring out how do our students immerse on their own in the language in the forest classroom, in our typical indoor school rooms? I believe that’s definitely enjoyable but anything that is also incredibly scary.
KAK: Kara, with school starting off, you are one of the teachers. Can you explain to us what you’ve seasoned so much?
Kākekāēcewan Kara Besaw: So considerably it really is been quite a learning knowledge. It’s only been a handful of times, but it truly is my first time performing with youngsters who haven’t been with the immersion program because delivery.
But I sense a whole lot of hope coming into our classroom, and I can now see so a lot expansion.
KAK: Young youngsters, they’re mentioned to take up a next language far more effortlessly than adults. How significant is it, Kara, to immerse the learners in pre-K and kindergarten a long time?
KKB: Nicely, coming into this, the notion of instructing only in Menominee to youngsters who haven’t been uncovered to a great deal of it, or as substantially as the other young children, was variety of daunting or like a genuinely daunting endeavor to arrive into. But because commencing training for a plan, I see firsthand every day how normally it all comes to them.
And, we won’t be able to forget that language is an integral component of who they are as Menominee young children, and that on your own sets them up for achievement. So it is crucial that we maintain fostering that for them to help them establish that feeling of identity in the classroom and exterior of the classroom.
KAK: Kara, can you explain how the Menominee language differs from English or other European languages?
KKB: Commencing my language journey, I started off as an adult a couple many years in the past, and in the starting it was a frequent exertion to unlearn a good deal of the English principles, practices, ideals.
Factors are so diverse in Menominee language. The way you buy your sentences. What is actually viewed as animate and inanimate, dwelling and non-residing, is distinctive in Menominee than it is in English. So you discuss about matters a different way.
But what I’m acquiring so far is that youngsters you should not look to have this challenge, at minimum not at this age anyway, simply because they are looking at the planet through new eyes, and they have an possibility to see the entire world and understand by means of their own special Menominee views — whilst we are outdoors in the forest.
KAK: Ben, what does society gain by owning little ones learn the Menominee language?
WBG: Oh, you get to see a absolutely various worldview.
Our little ones are going to be observing the earth via our language, and which is definitely a beautiful point they are going to see.
They’re going to have an comprehension of what it means to be Menominee residing in Wisconsin, our homeland … And that’s definitely fascinating. And there is certainly the opportunity and the hope that is at the rear of all of the factors that we’re performing. It is really genuinely a gorgeous point to be a aspect of and a wonderful legacy to pass on.