Leech Lake school immerses students by teaching Ojibwe
By: Anne Williams
January 7, 2012
Students in the Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion School, a K-6 school within the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bena, know what it feels like to be movie stars.
They were featured on “First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language,” a documentary by Twin Cities Public Television that recently was honored with a Regional Emmy Award.
“First Speakers” follows the efforts of a new generation of Ojibwe scholars and educators attempting to save one of Minnesota’s native languages.
Anton Treuer, historian, author and professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, also is featured in the documentary. He estimates there are fewer than 1,000 fluent Ojibwe speakers left in the United States.
The Niigaane Ojibwe Immersion School was developed in 2003 to revitalize the Ojibwe language on the Leech Lake Reservation.
“First Speakers” takes viewers inside the Ojibwe immersion school and filmed students being taught materials entirely in the Ojibwe language and within the values and traditional practices of the Ojibwe culture.
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