Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
The Language Summit was the one of the first efforts to bring the Menominee community together to discuss how to bring back the Menominee language as a primary means to communicate. The summit helped me to understand the history and the issues facing the Menominee community. The summit also discussed the sustainability and climate resiliency of the Menominee Nation. I gained a better understanding of how Native nations have built into their language and culture the keys to being resilient.
The two current administrators and teachers of the Menominee language told us about the history of the revitalization efforts. I enjoyed hearing the early efforts and how the elders used humor to cover the mistakes that were made. There were funny stories told of mispronunciations and communication today as well as the past. I learned about the “old Menominee” language and how current efforts sometimes get confused as the “new Menominee”. I agree with the presenters that any progress is good for the people. I left with a good feeling that the teachers of the Menominee language have the most sincere intentions to insure the Menominee language is preserved. I learned that the current language revitalization efforts include young teachers. The presenters gave us information on the “Language Nest”, a language immersion program at the Menominee Head Start. What a wonderful thought, babies speaking their first words in their native language.
After lunch we had small group discussions of the language and how we could use the language to communicate issues like climate change. The group I participated in was very excited about using the language to teach kids. The group discussed how there would need to be parental involvement for the program’s success. On the question of climate change, the group felt that the Menominee language provided the answers to resiliency.
There was a good turnout of both the community and administration at the Summit. Chris Caldwell, SDI Director, called the Summit the first annual. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn and discuss issues that are occurring in Tribal Nations across the country. Efforts to pass the language to young people was gallantly communicated in this conference by the Menominee Nation.