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Acoma kids show off language skills

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.cibolabeacon.com/articles/2007/08/06/news/news11.txt Acoma kids show off language skills Monday, August 6, 2007 5:09 PM MDT ACOMA - One by one they
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 7, 2007
      http://www.cibolabeacon.com/articles/2007/08/06/news/news11.txt

      Acoma kids show off language skills

      Monday, August 6, 2007 5:09 PM MDT

      ACOMA - One by one they proudly stood on the stage dressed in traditional
      clothing. All eight of the students in the Oral History Project introduced
      themselves in the Keresan language to the gathering of more than 100
      community members at the Acoma Auditorium last Tuesday.

      The eight students, along with help from their instructors, showed off
      their acting talents too as they performed a skit based on the Acoma
      Emergence Story.

      William Estevan, one of the instructors of the project, talked about the
      unique program that has tribes from all across the country seeking Acoma's
      help in reestablishing their own efforts to save their languages.

      “The students studied oral language which included the Acoma emergence
      story, how the people came to their present state. Every day, excluding
      feast days, the students were involved with the Acoma Keres language and
      the oral story telling of the history of Acoma,” Estevan said.

      Vina Leno, Program Director for the Acoma Language Retention Program, said
      the program continues to improve each year as it celebrates its 10-year
      anniversary with a brand new place to call home.

      “Last year the tribal council approved appropriations for a new building
      and the building will be arriving this month,” Leno said.

      With much of its focus on the Acoma youth, Leno said she is looking to
      expand the program to include adults and newborns.

      “Then when the newborns get to the schools they can continue with the
      program,” Leno said.

      One positive aspect of the program that Leno did not foresee when it
      started was the security the students felt with their instructors.

      “The kids usually find the language classes a safe haven. They find it easy
      to talk with the instructors and they are able to tell them what they want
      to learn about Acoma,” Leno said.

      For Dakota Chino, 15, a sophomore at Grants High School, the language class
      taught him a lot about his people and who he is.

      “We learned about our history and colors and stuff like that. They taught
      us in a way that was fun,” Chino said.

      Chino said the classes encouraged him to get help from his mom and dad when
      he was at home. One problem Chino may face is continuing the language
      program while pursuing his athletic goals at Grants High School.

      “I heard they were going to have an after-school program which I will
      probably come to, but it might be kind of hard because I run cross
      country,” Chino said.

      Despite the hurdles he will face this fall, Chino is optimistic that he
      will continue with the language program.

      “Our language is a big part of our traditions and we have to learn our
      language because it is everything and I know it will help me in the
      future,” Chino said.

      By Will Kie

      Beacon staff writer

      will@...
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