Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe team up with Rosetta Stone to combat language extinction

There is a concern among Northland tribes that the Ojibwe language is dwindling.
There is a concern among Northland tribes that the Ojibwe language is dwindling.(Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe)
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 8:32 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 DULUTH) - There is a concern among Northland tribes that the Ojibwe language is dwindling.

According to research from the University of Minnesota, fewer than 700 first-language Ojibwe speakers are left in the state.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe hopes to increase language prosperity through a new collaboration with Rosetta Stone.

The online tool aims to set a foundation so anyone who wants to learn the language has the opportunity.

A resource Ojibwe people like Roxanne DiLille, Dean of Indigenous and Academic Affairs with Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, said is vital.

“If this language dies, there is no place to go to recapture it,” said DiLille. “Some might say, well, why do we need it? Because if we don’t have it, then we also lose the culture itself. We lose a very critical piece of sovereignty.”

The program contains videos, drawings, and activities featuring members of the Mille Lacs Band and tribal elders.

“Part of the work with teaching Ojibwe, because it’s an endangered language, is creating your own resources and teaching materials, and it’s just really nice to have something like Rosetta Stone where it’s all put together, and you have less work to do,” said Michelle Goose who teaches language at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Goose had the opportunity to preview the program and said it’s an exciting step and will be a big help in the classroom.

“The pronunciation is more accurate. Even though I try my best, I still probably have a little English influence with my pronunciation, so hearing it from someone who was raised speaking Ojibwe makes it a little bit better for students,” said Goose.

With this new resource, Ojibwe people hope everyone gets the opportunity to learn.

“You are in the North Woods. You are in Minnesota. This is the language of the land, and so it would just make sense if people had even just a rudimentary understanding of some of the language,” said DiLille.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe members, descendants, and band schools can access the program for free, with other bands and tribal schools eligible for a discount.

Everyone else can purchase the program for $100.

For information on the program and how to register, click here.

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