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Indigenous language educators gather in Billings, sharing teaching tips for future generations

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 11:53:43-05

BILLINGS — Over the course of the last three days, indigenous language educators have come together at the third annual Inter-Tribal Language Summit hosted by Montana State University (MSU), Billings.

“It feels good to learn something new," said Dr. Lanny Realbird, one of the event's organizers.

This gathering offers linguistic lecturers an opportunity to exchange the latest ideas about teaching native tribal languages with each other to ensure the preservation of indigenous cultures.

“It gives some of these people in attendance an idea of what other communities are doing so that they could network, collaborate, and possibly share resources," said Realbird.

These ideas include methodologies like the use of flashcards to assist learners with an understanding of where to place vocal emphasis on syllables in languages, including Cree.

“Right now we’re at a critical point … My journey has been to help bring back indigenous languages," said Dwayne Lasas, who invented 132 different pronunciation flashcards.

These efforts ensure that future generations of learners will be able to keep their native languages alive, according to attendees.

“It allows (students) the opportunity to reconnect to their language … we develop a greater capacity to deal with the tribal traumas that impact our students today," said Jonathan Jay Eagleman, the founder of the annual summit.