Since I grew up on the Tuscarora Nation, I had the opportunity to attend the Tuscarora Elementary School from Pre-K until 6th grade. During this time, I (along with my peers) was able to take language and culture classes taught by Betsy Bissell, Joanne Weinholtz, and Vince Schiffert. The program really helped me to gain an early understanding of the Tuscarora language, its cultural significance, and exposure to other indigenous histories. This schooling background, paired with my home experiences has provided my foundation for rethinking language learning.
After I graduated high school, I then had an opportunity to work with my teachers on various language and cultural projects. In this time, I have had an opportunity to see the work that they continue to do at the school and how they are utilizing various technologies in the classroom. When I went through the program there was a focus on learning songs, understanding Ganonyok* and basic sentence formation. This teaching took place in the classroom, a few times a week for the entirety of my elementary career.
However, upon my return to my alma mater, I found that videos comparable to Sesame Street are produced and then distributed to new mothers with the intent of introducing new born babies and young children to the language as soon as possible. Here is an example of the “Animals” video, enjoy!
*Ganonyok is a borrowed term that is used throughout the Haudenosaunee confederacy, meaning the words that come before all else. Or sometimes referred to as the thanksgiving address.