Boozhoo Anishinaabedog, nindinawemaganidog! (Hello everyone, my relatives.), said Mary Hermes
introductory comments to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
in support of Native American Languages Act legislation.Dr. Hermes is a founding board member of the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School that's sponsored by the Hayward School Board.
testimony earlier this summer, she
stressed the need for language immersion schools in the upper Great Lakes area and the need for alternative teacher training and certification programs for immersion teachers. Dr. Hermes, an assistant professor of education at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, had researched why common culture-based curriculum hadn't produced more academic success.
What I found, she
told the committee, was that the cultural-curriculum tends to be added on (to the academic curriculum) and taught in English.The result, too often, is competing academic streams: one cultural and one academic.Students can read this as a choice: academic success means assimilating and culture-based success means being Indian
.Students can choose: being smart or being Indian
.Teaching rigorous academic content through our indigenous languages poses no such dilemma.Ample evidence shows the many academic benefits of learning a second language, said Dr.Hermes.Learning an indigenous language also has the affective benefits of positive self-esteem and identity, intergenerational connectedness and appreciation of different world views.In my opinion, she
observed, language immersion should be the next evolution of culture-based curriculum.It would be a real break-through for all of American Indian education. Waadookodaading
means the place where we help each other.Miigwech biizindawiyeg, mii sa I'iw (That is all, thank you for listening.), Dr. Hermes
told the Senate committee.See Dr. Hermes' testimony at: http://indian.senate.gov/2003hrgs/051503hrg/hermes.PDF.