Why Study Languages
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Why Study Languages?


·         Ojibwe is a living language, indigenous to this area of North America. It is spoken in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota and Montana in the U.S. and in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec in Canada.

·         Because you are in Minnesota there are two official native languages here, Ojibwe and Dakota. The more you learn about these languages and cultures, the more you will understand about our state's history and heritage. When you visit another country, it is important to learn about the country's people and language.

·         If you are Ojibwe, studying Ojibwe helps you be in touch with your native language and heritage that has survived through centuries of oppression. It provides a source of strength to know who you are, where you have been and where you are going as an individual and as a people.

·         Today those students who dedicate their lives to the revitalization, stabilization and maintenance of Ojibwe are known throughout Ojibwe country as language and culture warriors. Most of these students are young and will become the future teachers and spiritual leaders of the people. They are links from the past to the future.

·         Ojibwe is part of the Algonquian language family with more than 20 related tribes. It is the largest and most widely spoken language family in North America.

·         The names of many of the lakes, rivers, and towns have Ojibwe origins. Misi ziibi (Mississippi), makizin (moccasin), wiigiwaam (wigwam) and mooz (moose) are words you already know.

·         Ojibwe is a very precise, descriptive, and beautiful language with a complex grammar and is great preparation for learning other languages. A student is able to learn about patterns, word formation, and cultural insights.

·         Because you are in a continent first settled by American Indians' nations it is helpful to learn about the Ojibwe language and culture. It will give you a greater appreciation for this land and its' people.

·         It is possible to study Ojibwe from kindergarten to college, which enables a student to become quite fluent.   


 – Written by Rick Gresczyck, Ojibwe teacher, Four Winds School, Minneapolis, 1997.


 Web sources:

  1. G. Cantoni (Ed.) (1996), "Stabilizing Indigenous Languages", Flagstaff: Center for Excellence in Education, Northern Arizona University http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/miscpubs/stabilize/i-needs/status.htm
  2. James Estes, "How many indigenous American languages are spoken in the United States? By how many speakers?" National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/askncbe/faqs/20natlang.htm