"First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language"


Last fall, the Twin Cities Public Television documentary First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language was awarded a MidWest Regional Emmy  Award for Artistic Excellence in the Documentary-Cultural category. The one-hour program features the work of the Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion school and other schools and scholars in the region working to revitalize and restore the Ojibwe language.

Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms participated in the film during late spring of 2010. At Niigaane, all academic and social content is taught through the medium of Ojibwe language. Through this style of teaching the Leech Lake community hopes to reclaim the Ojibwe language as a vital, necessary language for the coming generations.

The Emmy award is currently traveling on a "Miigwech Tour" to all of the sites that opened their doors as participants in the film. First stop has been at the Niigaane school in Bena, Minnesota, where the Niigaane Kindergarten through sixth grade students have been taking care of the award and talking about the importance of the Ojibwe language in today’s world.

The Emmy Award statue will be at Niigaane until January 6, 2012. Niigaane will host a feast and farewell to the beautiful statuette on that day at the Niigaane classrooms.

From there, the award will travel to Bemidji State University, the Red Lake Nation, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School Hayward Wisconsin, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, and to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of American Studies.

Many, many people contributed to the film and this is a great reminder of the strength and importance of Ojibwe language and culture today.

The film was funded by an Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Fund grant to Twin Cities Public Television and the citizens of Minnesota with additional support provided by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants through the Minnesota Historical Society as a way to showcase Minnesota’s cultural heritage and ongoing legacy.

The film premiered November 2010 on Twin Cities Public Television, and can also be seen on local Minnesota Public Television stations. Or,  find it at: http:// www.tpt.org/?a=productions&id=3.