The Observer: Tribes fight to preserve languages

"In the unlikely surroundings of a cluttered art room in a rural Oklahoma high school, a dying language was being given the kiss of life.

Bud Yackeshi got to his feet in front of 20 or so fellow members of his Comanche tribe and recited a blessing. "We ask you to be here, Lord, for us and the people who speak here tonight," he said in the language of his ancestors. Then the Comanche lesson began.

Across America, similar scenes are being played out as Native American tribes try to revive their languages, many of which are on the edge of extinction. Efforts range from college courses and immersion schools for young people to simply recording the languages before the last native speakers die.

In Wyoming, the Arapaho tribe have set up a school to educate their children in their native language, not English. Tribal colleges from South Dakota to Michigan to Minnesota are doing courses in Indian languages. To many Americans, the development comes as a surprise. Most people think of trying to save exotic languages as something that happens in Africa or South American jungles."

Get the Story:
Native Americans find their voice (The Observer 3/22)

Blog Post:
American Indians strive to preserve customs (The Guardian 3/23)