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Language Apprentice: Bringing Back the Ho-Chunk Language


When I am driving to work
I feel like maybe my ancestors
are there cheering me on. I’m sure they are. Obviously, they want their language
to go on they want our language
to go on. My name is
Arlene Blackdeer. I am a Ho-Chunk
language apprentice. The Ho-Chunk
master apprentice program is basically made up to create
younger speakers that will go on teaching
the language and culture. I work with –. That’s Aurelia Hopinkah’s. She grew up
in the Dells area. She was raised by her mom and dad and she was also sent
to her grandparent’s house. They were sent
to the elders to be taught what the elders know,
so they can carry on those stories
and those ways. [speaking in Ho-Chunk] We work on any thing and
everything. When I first started
my apprenticeship we were together
all the time. That was my idea of the best and the most
that I’ve learned. Everything she knows
she shares with me like why we do
stuff that we do. You know, why are the
different stories told and why do they
tell that story? I think that’s pretty amazing. [speaking in Ho-Chunk] I remember hearing from my elders,
and even now to this day, that when our language dies, that’s gonna be
the end of our world. When I was younger
I really did not understand that. Now that I’m older
I see that. I see it,
because it’s so close coming to an end. So I thought out of respect
for my elders and everything they’ve gone
through, that’s the least I can do for them. I think that it’s almost too early to tell,
but when we had the immersion daycare,
that’s where I saw the results. That’s where
the speakers came from. [speaking in Ho-Chunk] So I think
it’s too early to say I don’t see anything
happening in the 4k or in the high schools. And what’s tomorrow? I usually say it when I say,
see you later. What is it? –. Anybody remember October? Or what it means,
without looking. ‭‪‏‏>>It’s like
the season of the–>>Deer hide.>>So how do you say
deer? I do see us
raising awareness to the high school students
so that at some point they can go on to further their
learning. We’re building their language
and giving them the basics
so they can go out on their own
and possibly become an apprentice. [reciting in Ho-Chunk] Are they going to be fluent
after they are done with high school?
No. Will they
know a lot more than they what they
went in there with? Probably. [speaking in Ho-Chuck] We have family fun night,
just to get the community involved. It’s really to
raise awareness of what the language division
is doing. Our goal,
in my mind is to bring back
our Ho-Chunk language bring it back to the communities
bring it back to the work place bring it back to more family
events, and just have it revitalized. Bring it back to life again. I guess, if I wanted to say
anything to anybody in any native
community, is get involved. Get involved
in your language. Get involved
in your culture. It makes you
who you are as a person or as a community. Don’t let it
get to where it’s almost to
the point where you can’t bring it back. I feel like
we’re nearing that. But with the efforts
that we’re making I feel, in my heart,
that we can actually do it.

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