- Episode 1: A Brighter Future - Mohawk
- Episode 2: Gentle Words - Maliseet
- Episode 3: The Spirit of Stories - Ojibway
- Episode 4: Language of The North - Naskapi
- Episode 5: Language of The Caribou People - Gwitchin
- Episode 6: Our Past Our Language - Secwepemc (Shushwap)
- Episode 7: Buffalo People - Dakota
- Episode 8 : Healing Power of Words - Dene
- Episode 9: Our Music is Our Language - Oneida
- Episode 10: Words from Our Scholars - Cree
- Episode 11: Words from Our Elders - Blackfoot
- Episode 12: Cultural Centres and Language
- Episode 13: The Dreamers - Dane-Zaa
Episode 11: Words from our Elders - Blackfoot
This episode will focus on the words of the elders and what they can teach to the younger generation about their language and culture. The Kainai Board of Education in Standoff, Blood Reserve, Alberta uses stories from the elders in their school curriculum. By using this arraignment they are learning about their past, values and the importance of their culture and the Old Balckfoot language.
Blackfoot is an Algonquin language spoken by about 5000 people of the Blood, Peagan and Siksika tribes in Southern Alberta. There are two classifications for the language; Old Blackfoot and New Blackfoot. Old Blackfoot is spoken by the elders and New Blackfoot by the younger generations. Old Blackfoot is in the midst of modifications as the younger generation do not know enough of their language and are beginning to mix English with their language, therefor creating New Blackfoot. We will look at the Old and the New and see what the people of Standoff are doing to prevent the Old Blackfoot from disappearing completely.
The Kainai Board of Education in Standoff is working to create a curriculum using stories from elders. This three volume set consists of stories told by elders, which have been recorded on tape, written down and translated for members of the community to learn. These volumes are also considered history or reference books, students not only learn the Old Blackfoot, but also the old traditions and concepts.
Marvin Fox is a teacher at Kainai and editor of the volumes, he hopes to add a fourth volume by recording more elders, he enjoys this part of his work, he says that he learns as the elders speak.
The beginning of this episode we will get a background of the Blackfoot Nation and the important role of their secret Blackfoot societies. Elder Adam Delaney explains how the Blackfoot people have been struggling to repatriate traditional “bundles” from various museums, which are vital to their societies.
There exists a strong parallel between the repatriation of the bundles and the resurgence of the Blackfoot language. Religion and language form the foundation for cultural traditions and rituals - the practice of which are encouraged in the four on-reserve schools controlled by the Kainai Board of Education.
We witness a traditional “name-giving” ceremony for one high school student which is performed entirely in the Blackfoot language. It is here we meet Ramona Big Head as she explains the importance of getting the young people to hear the language from the fluent speaking elders in the classroom. Her biggest challenge she faces is how to merge the provincial curriculum and the Blackfoot culture in a school setting. Her approach is to take an “elders-mentor” program where the elders come into the schools on a regular basis and work with the students.
In this part of the episode we will also see the amazing work of Joyce Goodstriker the superintendent of Education for the Kainai Board of Education. She was one of the people involved in getting the “Elders Book” published and implemented in the school curriculum. Not only is she an educational leader, she is also President of the Mokakit Research Association, which is an Indian education research association in Canada. We will film her as she sits in a meeting and talks with colleagues about the urgency to keep their language from disappearing altogether.
In this part of the episode we will see the amazing work of Joyce Goodstriker the superintendent of Education for the Kainai Board of Education. We will follow her as she works out curriculums that will benefit all students and grades. Not only is she an educational leader, she is also President of the Mokakit Research Association, which is an Indian education research association in Canada. We will film her as she sits in a meeting and talks with colleagues about the urgency to keep their language from disappearing altogether.
Part of this section will feature Mary Fox, a part-time Blackfoot Immersion teacher for grade 1 , she is a fluent speaker and hopes to teach her students all that she can before they head off to grade 2. We will follow her into her classroom and see what initiatives she is taking in teaching Old Blackfoot. She will discuss with us what components she uses in order for her to come up with a curriculum that will benefit and entice her students to want to learn the language.
Lena Russell is a certified teacher who now works in the Kainai Board of Education system as Blackfoot Language Curriculum developer and author. She is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. To be an active participator of community and school matters has been a fulfilled dreams of hers. Lena has dedicated her life to the survival of the Blackfoot language through teaching it and writing books for the language. Her newest project is writing a text book for the grade 8 at the high school on the Blood Reserve. She says that writing these books is to preserve the language, but she also feels that this is not enough, she hopes to educate the people into taking the language into the homes as well.