"As one of the last fluent Cree speakers I’d like to preserve our language. I want our future generations to be able to pray, conduct our ceremonies and call the spirits by name in the Cree Language. Without our Cree Language many of our ceremonies will fade away.”
Due to an increased death rate on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in 2018, many fluent/first language speakers were lost, causing an anxiety in the community for the Chippewa and Cree Languages. A determined language teacher, Brenda St. Pierre, was concerned about the loss of culture that occurs if a language disappears.
In early 2019, Brenda approached the Chippewa Cree Tribal Business Committee to establish a Tribal Department for Language Revitalization as a focused effort to have the languages revitalized and perpetuated available for future generations. Her vision was embraced by other community members.
At a traditional feast to honor Mahchiminahtik, the Cree ancestor who was gifted with the Cree Language Writing System, the core group decided to name their organization Mahchiminahtik Chippewa and Cree Language Revitalization (MCCLR). Chippewa Cree Business Committee declared a State of Emergency for the Chippewa Cree Languages on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and awarded one year of funding for the new organization.
MCCLR received their 501c3 status in 2019 and now contributions are tax deductible for the donors.
In our first year, much of the efforts were focused on establishing the organization by making sure that all administrative, legal and governmental requirements were met and executed in a timely manner.
A community assessment on Chippewa and Cree language fluency will be executed to measure the Tribe’s situation. Data collected will be helpful in planning of projects and strategies to battle the loss of languages on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
In the near future, MCCLR plans to be able to offer to all Chippewa Cree Tribal Departments and Enterprises, Educational Institutions and Community Members: Cree Language courses, Cultural Sensitivity trainings, access to all past and future Chippewa and Cree Language resources created within the exterior boundaries of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
MCCLR is involved in the planning of an Associate’s Degree in the Cree Language at the Stone Child College.
The long-term goal of MCCLR is to eventually establish a Cree Immersion school. Grade levels have not yet been determined, however, grant searches to assist in this effort have been ongoing.