Living Language: Menominee Language Revitalization


I first go around
and plow my relatives out a couple aunties and cousins. Then I have my, I call them,
brothers, you know. That’s the way we say it
in our language. Nematok are friends,
close friends. We do things
in a good mind and a good heart
and a good way. When we need that help I guess we believe it will come to us too. What I’m doing is
ensuring that the language goes
a generation beyond myself. I’m gonna do that through my
kids, you know. [speaking in Menominee] I’m teaching — the language using
natural immersion. Natural immersion is you
just talk about your day the way you
would anything else, only it’s being done in
Menominee. I decided to stay home and teach her the language
because it’s my last unique opportunity to be able to raise a first language
fluent speaker. I think it’s hard for her to
want to speak because nobody else does,
you know. There’s probably about
eight people that speak it. We’ll call it ten. You’ve got
ten of 10,000. What’s that percent? .0001, .0001%. That’s a reality check. The language,
it could die. The idea that
we’re trying to preserve is a living language. Pematesemakat, it lives. [chanting in Menominee] Every little thing
Is gonna be all right For me and you Don’t you worry
about a thing Every little thing
Is gonna be all right [chanting in Menominee] [talking in Menominee] So there’s words readily
available for everything in nature. The word for falling snow
is –. The word for snow
on the ground is — crusted snow,
— we say –. The word snowflake
is even different yet than both of them,
we say –. [conversing in Menominee] The beautiful thing is it’s not
much easier in the woods because our language
is really based on what’s going on
out there. How do we make that transition
into today’s life too? We’re not always sugaring,
we’re not always ricing. We spend a lot of
days at home in the office,
on the road. We’ve got to learn to express
those things too, you know. The language has
to make that transition if it’s going to
be relevant and if it’s going to
survive, you know. When I was young my first main
teacher, Waqseciwan she was starting to get sick and
forgetful, you know. One day we were just sitting
at her house, talking and she tells me now I can die,
she told me. For 25 years,
she said I’ve tried to teach
someone this language. Now, today,
I’ve done that. Then she continued on in
Menominee, she said [quoting in Menominee] She says,
you know maybe you’re going
to be an old man and hear these kids
talking our language. She said, I love ya. Don’t give up.

26 Replies to “Living Language: Menominee Language Revitalization

  1. love the video. i hope that others will try and help restore many native languages… love the song he sings, does anyone have a full video of it?

  2. I found out recently I'm 25% Menominee and I love everything I'm learning about this culture. I really want to learn the language

  3. Incredible! This is how it's supposed to be done if our languages are to survive! Thank you for sharing your efforts. This is an inspiration!

  4. Thank you, this is awesome. Keep fighting, your language is unique in the world, if it dies, dies forever. A hug from Costa Rica.

  5. Love what your doing and I agree native american languages need to make the transition to modern things to be relevant and to stay alive.

  6. I am Menominee & how I would love to learn our language to pass to my son…May the Great Spirit always be with you!

  7. i am a munsee mohican. thank you menominee nation !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!! we cherish our rez and land and water and our neighboring nation of you!

  8. I used to speak menominee at a young age but then my mom wanted to leave the reservation so now I'm used of speaking English I kinda hate it u know? even though I still visit family up on the reservation tho ♥

  9. Oh good on you brother! So cool you're teaching your daughter this language even if there is only a few left that speak it. Especially if there is only a few left that speak it. Love this <3 <3

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