Monday, July 10, 2006

Native Canadian Language Required in Mohawk Community

Previously, I reported that the Nunavut government in Canada's Arctic will require all government staff to learn Inuktituk, the native language of the Inuit in the region. Now, other native groups in Canada have followed suit. In the Mohawk Nation reservation Kahnawake in Quebec, the streets have new traffic signs that read STOP/TESTAN. The signs are part of Kahnawake's goal to revive their native Canadian language and ancestral cultures. As part of this effort, the band council will require Kahnawake's 900 public employees to enroll in native Canadian Mohawk language lessons by September 1. The target is to make 30% of Kahnawake's public employees fluent speakers in five years, 60% in ten years, and 80% in 15 years.

Grand Chief Michael Delisle admits some people are resisting the plan, but he insists it's necessary as only 1,000 of Kahnawake's 8,000 residents can speak the native Canadian Mohawk language. "The value of what this could mean socially and politically is monumental," Delisle said, adding that "so much of who we are is in our language. We want to re-establish it as part of our heritage." Rosetta Stone is providing Mohawk language interactive software. This is the first time the company's product will be used to teach a native language.

See Free Spirit Gallery for excellent Native Canadian art.

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