Education | National

Omaha Tribe counts just a dozen fluent speakers of language

A view of the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. Photo from Omaha Tribe

Only about a dozen people -- none under the age of 70 -- are fluent in the language of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.

The tribe has been struggling to pass on the language to younger generations. Despite efforts at local schools -- including the Nebraska Indian Community College, where taking Omaha is a requirement for graduation -- the number of speakers does not appear to be increasing.

“You can sit here and talk to them, but when you ask them what we talked about yesterday, ‘Oh, I forgot,’ ” elder Rufus White told The Omaha World-Herald. “It’s like you’re talking to a brick wall.”

Experts believe an immersion program is the best way to create new speakers. A lack of funding could spell the end of the language.

Get the Story:
Omaha Tribe members trying to revitalize an 'endangered language' (The Omaha World-Herald 2/15)

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