Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Today, the Oneida Nation will reclaim part of its history when tribal officials sign a charter outlining ways to preserve the language.Currently, there are only 25 to 30 speakers of Oneida (Onʌyota’a:ka), all elders who learned it as their first language. As I said yesterday, it's an ambitious effort; hopefully one that will succed.
"The goal is to have language as a part of our day-to-day life in Oneida," said [Carol] Cornelius, area manager of the Oneida Cultural Heritage Department. "We only heard the language when we got around grandpa and grandma. Now you’re going to hear it throughout the course of your day."
The Oneida Language Charter Team — made up of 13 representatives from various branches of the tribe including the Oneida Language Revitalization Program, business committee, human resources, gaming and education — has developed a plan to help the tribe’s 15,000 members across the nation become fluent in the language.
Goals for the charter team are to create a pool of fluent Oneida speakers who can teach the Oneida language, research and identify all Oneida language speakers and develop a teacher certification program for Oneida language teachers.
In keeping with an Oneida tradition, the charter states as its objective that the Oneida people and the Oneida organization will speak the language within seven generations, Cornelius said.
© 2003–2010 T. Carter Ross