Video Spotlight: The Importance of Language


This video begins with students saying they don't know their native language and pointing out that one-third of indigenous languages still spoken in the United States have fewer than 100 speakers. The video cites a number of reasons for the loss of languages including boarding schools and political and social discrimination.

"A lot of people don't realize that this is fairly recent history," says Hope Flanagan, an Ojibwe language instructor. "It was a very intentional effort to take the Indian out of the Indian. You could go from reservation to reservation and see how that was implemented."

Flanagan also discusses language revitalization efforts but there is a lack of money, which is needed to move forward with the efforts.

"We are losing our language…In most cases it's not spoken at home," says Bernadette, a Lakota language instructor. "With this new generation it's almost extinct…it's really important that parents get involved."

Flanagan discusses the need for language immersion schools beginning in kindergarten all the way through high school.

In the video, posted by MIGIZI Communications, people are asked why retaining native languages is important as. "Because that is who we are as a people, that is our original voice, that was the first words that were spoken on this continent," one of the respondents said.