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Norman students hope film helps rescue native tongues

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.newsok.com/norman-students-hope-film-helps-rescue-native-tongues /article/3337198 Norman students hope film helps rescue native tongues Norman club
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14 3:19 PM
      http://www.newsok.com/norman-students-hope-film-helps-rescue-native-tongues
      /article/3337198

      Norman students hope film helps rescue native tongues
      Norman club interviewed tribal elders for award-winning language
      documentary

      BY JENNIFER GRISWOLD
      Published: January 12, 2009

      NORMAN — A documentary about the dying languages of American Indian tribes
      has received state honors for a group of Norman students, and is being used
      in classrooms as a teaching tool.

      Students in Norman High School’s Native American Club were recognized
      recently by state Education Department officials for their documentary,
      titled "When It’s Gone, It’s Gone.”

      The students interviewed tribal elders representing American Indian tribes
      in Oklahoma and asked them about their native languages and the struggle to
      keep their languages and cultures alive.

      Most of the elders on the video are in their 80s and have witnessed the
      languages of their tribes dying out as the younger generations were raised
      in an English-speaking society.

      Oklahoma has 39 federally recognized tribes, and many are losing their
      languages with few fluent speakers left, said Desa Dawson, director of
      world languages for the state Education Department.

      Mosiah Bluecloud, a former Norman High School student, said working on the
      documentary changed his life.

      "I felt sad as I listened to them talk about their children. It kind of
      made me feel helpless,” he said.

      Bluecloud, a Kickapoo, decided to change his major at the University of
      Oklahoma to linguistics, and he wants to become fluent in his native
      language.

      Dawson said she’s received comments from high school and college language
      teachers across the state who’ve shown the video in their classes and used
      it to start discussions about the cultural importance of language.

      The video has struck a chord with people, Dawson said.

      "You express your culture through your language, and without that language,
      it makes it that much more difficult to maintain your culture,” Dawson
      said.

      The 13 students who worked on the documentary and spoke to the elders
      learned a lot through the project, said Judith Blake, club sponsor.

      Bluecloud said he’s surprised word about the film spread like it did.

      "I hope it does something,” Bluecloud said. "I hope kids go to their
      grandparents and start learning words.”
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