"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.”
WHY WE MATTER
WHAT HAPPENS IF OUR LANGUAGE DISAPPEARS?
The languages of the Chippewa Cree people are the identifiers of each individual tribal member, both physically and spiritually. Elders have stated that without our Chippewa and Cree languages, the spiritual identity is lost, our ceremonies will fade away, we lose connection to our past, our culture weakens and our youth lose their tribal identifiers.
THE DIFFERENCE WE MAKE
According to past data collections as well as our own recent data collection efforts, the Chippewa and Cree languages are becoming more and more endangered as most of our fluent language speakers are from the grandparent and great-grandparent generations (50 years old and up).
There are no new “First Language Speakers” being produced and efforts need to take place in order to change that. Currently, fluency rates for the Cree Language on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation are less than 10% while fluency rates for the Chippewa Language are much lower at about 3%.
The community needs this particular organization because there are various language courses offered for various age levels in different locations on or near the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.*
There has not been a coordinating organization that serves to increase community awareness of the language instruction offerings and create a learning continuum that will serve all ages of those who wish to learn through curses, activities or events.
*-There is a Head Start Program (0-5 years old),
-There are two public schools K-12, Rocky Boy Schools and Box Elder Schools. Both schools offer Cree language classes at each grade level with at the most 45 minutes afforded to each grade level per week.
-At Stone Child College there are Cree Language courses offered that offer 3 credits per class with at the most offering 3 hours of Cree Language per week in a semester.
It is MCCLR’s intentions to partner with all of the educational institutions on and/or near the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and the various tribal departments to encourage students, employees and tribal members to learn more of the Chippewa and Cree languages through various language courses, activities and projects.
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.