MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN)- Northern Michigan University has received a grant fund for the Center of Native American studies program.
The $135,000 grant will help to expand Anishinaabe language course offerings at undergraduate and graduate levels. Native American Heritage Foundation granted the money for the Anishinaabe Language Project to help improve curriculum on Michigan Indigenous history and promote respect and cooperation among local Indigenous communities and tribes.
The goals of the grant include creating a curriculum that educates and heals Tribal Nations; honors Indigenous peoples’ relationship with the earth; create a community of scholars that specialize in Anishinaabemowin documentation and translation; to create a community of second speakers of Anishinaabemowin.
We spoke with the leader of the project about the importance of keeping the Anishinaabe language alive.
“The language, you can imagine it as roots of a tree. It carries a lot of community and thought, and some of the old ways. And the tree itself was burned away by the residential and boarding school experience. It’s about 100 years of forced schooling, where students were isolated from anything having to do with the language. So that type of language was mostly lost. And so this would be like a type of new tree growing from the same roots, and then courses of this kind could be seen as leaves on that tree,” said Jud Sojourn, assistant professor for NMU’s Center for Native American Studies.
The grant will offer two courses tied to Tribal Governance and History, two new graduate classes, and offer a graduate program in documentation and translation by fall 2022.