, 2023-01-15 06:06:20,
There is one thing Barry Hand tries to convey to his students: language is power.
For the first time in years, students at Red Wing High School can take a class in the Dakota language. It is not a random selection. About 6.5% of the student body in the school district is Native American, and the city of Red Wing itself is located south of the Prairie Island Indian community.
For a people and language that have faced marginalization for years, this is a step towards rebuilding culture and its relationship to the wider community.
“I really think this class has had a real positive impact on our building,” said George Nemanish, Principal of Red Wing High School. “It has allowed our students to broaden their view of the different cultures within our society.”
On January 9, Hand wrote a number of words on the whiteboard in the front of the room, titled “Daily Expression.” Words like “usually” (Easna), “maybe” (Nacece), as well as the acronym “WTH”, were followed by their Dakota counterpart “Waƞeya”.
The hand pronounces “conscious,” and is recited by a chorus of 30 students returning it to him in unison. Then repeat the process.
“You have to know how to express yourself with language,” Hand said to the class, “otherwise the language will not survive.” “We don’t have that saintly language. We have all the expressions in Dakota that you have in English.”
The language belongs to them
For Native Americans…
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