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News From the North

Mohawk

KAHNAWAKE, Ontario - Mohawks of all ages are heading to language classes to gain fluency and preserve their mother tongue.

A new community initiative, called the Kanien'keha Literacy Certificate Program, is teaching Mohawk in the hope the 25 students in the class will pass what they have learned on to others in Kahnawake.

The immersion method used to teach the program involves the students spending the entire day of class in language. It is intended to help intermediate speakers become fluent.

An on-line estimate of the complete fluency rate in Mohawk at Kahnawake was said to be a mere 10 per cent.

The $480,000 cost of the program is being paid by several groups, including the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and its community development commission.

The students are expected to graduate in June.

Innu

DAVIS INLET, Newfoundland - The community of 600 Innu that live in Davis Inlet in the province's remote Labrador region are moving - their entire village.

The relocation project began over six years ago, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and involved the construction of an entirely new town called Natuashish.

The Innu's new home will feature 133 new houses, a new school, a health center and a new air strip. The new homes will have running water and sewage for the first time.

The final move will not be without its problems. Several homes are not finished, including the band chief's home, and the move will be made largely by snowmobile in the middle of winter.

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has graciously offered to let families whose homes are not finished to stay with other family members until the work is complete.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

WINNEPEG, Manitoba - Native leaders are scheduled to meet with the provincial Gaming Minister Tim Sale next week on the stalled expansion of Native casinos in the state.

The Native-run casino in la Pas is the only one of five that were supposed to be currently up and running because local community approval of urban casinos in Brandon, Thompson and Headingly was not obtained.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is also pushing for greater Native control over its casinos and is calling provincial efforts to regulate gaming on reserves in the province "an intrusion," according to the Canada.com news service.

Metis

CALGARY, Alberta - Heather Devine, a University of Calgary ethno-historian, has uncovered a diary that may explain the activities of Louis Riel during his exile in the United States during the 1870s.

Riel is one of the more well-known and controversial figures in Canadian history. He led the M?tis during the Red River Rebellion in Manitoba to establish some measure of freedom for the descendents of early European settlers and Aboriginal people.

The diary that is currently being authenticated was owned by an anonymous British nobleman traveling on the American Great Plains in 1871. Riel had been traveling extensively in the region during that time and may have acted as a guide for the noble.

The diary the nobleman entitled "Buffalo Hunters of the Pembinah" features references to a guide who fled Canada after an armed confrontation with Canadian authorities for defending the rights of the M?tis.

An annotated version of the dairy is going to be published in about two years and is being considered a valuable piece of M?tis heritage once authenticated.

Riel was tried and executed after he returned to Canada for leading a second failed rebellion in 1875.