Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe partners with Rosetta Stone to fight language extinction

DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) – Northland tribes are concerned about the decline of the Ojibwe language.

According to a University of Minnesota study, there are fewer than 700 Ojibway first-language speakers left in the state.

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

The online tool aims to establish a foundation so that anyone wishing to learn the language has the opportunity to do so.

A resource that Ojibway people like Roxanne DiLille, dean of Indigenous and academic affairs at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, have said is vital.

“If that language dies, there’s nowhere to go to get it back,” DiLille said. “Some might say, well, why do we need it? Because if we don’t have it, we also lose the culture itself. We are losing a very important part of sovereignty.

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

“Part of teaching Ojibway, because it’s a dying language, is to create your own teaching resources and materials, and it’s really nice to have something like Rosetta Stone where everything is put together, and you have less work to do,” said Michelle Goose, who teaches the language at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Goose had the opportunity to preview the program and said it was an exciting step and would be a great help in the classroom.

“The pronunciation is more precise. Even though I’m doing my best, I probably still have a little English influence with my pronunciation, so hearing it from someone who was brought up speaking Ojibway makes it a bit better for students,” Goose said. .

With this new resource, the Ojibwa hope everyone will have the opportunity to learn.

“You are in the northern woods. You are in Minnesota. It’s the language of the country, so it would make sense if people only had a rudimentary understanding of part of the language,” DiLille said.

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.

Anyone can purchase the program for $100.

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

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