Ojibwemowin….. the Language of Our People
There are approximately 43,000 Ojibwe language speakers in North America. In 1995, research found less than 500 fluent Ojibwe language speakers in the tri-state area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. According to a 1999 survey, less than 10 speakers remained within the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation out of 3,000 community members. Other communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar rates of fluency; a handful of speakers, all over 60 years of age, with no one in the younger generations attaining fluency despite tribal efforts.
Linguists define a language which has no native speakers (people who grew up speaking the language as a child) “dead” or “extinct.” A language which has no native speakers in the youngest generation is called “moribund.” A language which has very few native speakers is called “endangered” or “imperilled.” Review of research literature on language loss and language revitalization quantifies the status of Ojibwe language at Lac Courte Oreilles. According to Dr. Joshua A. Fishman’s Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale for Threatened Languages, Ojibwe language at Lac Courte Oreilles falls between Stage 7 and 8. An endangered language can be revitalized through extensive well-defined efforts.
The Ojibwe language at Lac Courte Oreilles is in a revitalization stage. Less than a handful of first language elders are left. But there is a window of opportunity with the Waadookodaading Language Immersion School that provides language instruction to young children ages 3-11, a prime stage level of learning languages. However, the challenges are many and include funding, development of curriculum, employment/retention of certified Native teachers with the requisite language abilities, and lack of classroom space.
In Wisconsin, Charter school status does not come with funding from the public school system, nor the state. Waadookodaading must raise its own funding from federal grants, foundations and other resources.
Niwiidookawaanaanig ningikinoo’amaaganinaanig da-nitaa-ojibwomotaadiwaad ge-mino-bimaadiziwaad.
We help our students speak Ojibwe with each other in order to know and live a good life
Ge-niinawind sa omaa Waadookodaading – endazhi-wiidookodaadiyaang niwii-naadamawaanaanig ningikinoo’amaaganinaanig da-nitaa-ojibwemotaadiwaad ge-mino-bimaadiziwaad. Mii omaa endazhi-maawanji’idiwaad da-ojibwemotaadiwaad, da-manaajitoowaad aki, miinawaa dash da-manaaji’idiwaad gakina bemaadizijig. Abinoojiinyag gikinoo’amaagoziwag odinwewiniwaa, odizhitwaawiniwaa, miinawaa gwayak ezhiwebak miziwekamig. Nimisawendaamin da-mamino-inendamowaad gikendaasowin da-gagwe-gwayakosidoowaad ezhiwebadinig omaa Akiing. Gakina gegoo gikinoo’amawaawag Ojibwemowin miinawaa izhitwaawin. Gakina gegoo nindizhichigemin ondinamang indizhitwaawininaan. Mii ezhi-dagosidooyaang ezhi-gikinoo’amawangidwaa agiw abinoojiinyag, ani-gikendaasowaad, ani-nitaawichigewaad, naa go gaye da-mino-giizhwewaad.
The mission of Waadookodaading is to create proficient speakers of the Ojibwe language who are able to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world. The school will be a community center for language revitalization, local environmental understanding and intergenerational relationships. We expect that students will be grounded in local language, culture and traditions, while aware of global concerns. Our aim is to foster a love of learning while teaching the skills that will enable students to create solutions for our community and our