Seneca Encouragement

Here is an e-mail that I received from Nancy Napierala about my blog and her relationship with the Seneca language. I met Nancy when I attended Seneca Language classes at the University at Buffalo in 2009 and 2010. There is a core group of engaged Seneca language learners who come together to practice, learn, and speak the Seneca language. I was so happy to be in an environment of language learning and I am sad that I have not been able to attend the classes anymore. I hope next semester to have a language learning night with some other Skarù:re’ learners!

“Nya:weh sgeno, Mia,

I appreciate your blog and the emphasis on language. Our Seneca Language class is always looking for reinforcement and ideas for our studies. In particular, we appreciate the emerging group of young adults who are using their cultural background combined with current teaching methods and social media to encourage the growth of language skills as the first component of cultural preservation. I was immediately struck by the colors in your heading with the beautiful portraits of people. The next thing that caught my eye was the borders, with their woodland illustrations, lending peaceful and healthy aspects to the material you present.

I believe your use of children’s learning aids is solid and applicable to all learners, because we must all learn as children do, whatever our ages, and we like to be reassured by the kind and expressive voice of the narrator. The links you add to other nations, to Indian Country Today, and to other language learning systems helps expand our awareness that all the nations are having the same problems preserving culture.

We can follow very few blogs if we want to keep up our own work, and yours is the only one I would choose to follow regularly because your interests are helpful to me. I am happy that you acknowledge your Mom because it shows that the efforts of her generation as first-generation college students (I presume) are bearing fruit so quickly in the continuing work of their children.

Ehsgo:gai’ae, (I’ll see you again, in Seneca), Nancy Napierala”

Nyá:we’ for your support Nancy!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. T. McKie says:

    čwé:’n ahskě:nę hę – I was in the first class from the Tuscarora Indian School that had a language class from kindergarten (early 1970’s) to fifth grade. When I was growing up, I remember my grandfather and his cousin speaking Tuscarora to each other on the front porch. When I came home from school, the first they they would ask me is what I learned from the language teacher. I would say the phrase or words I learned and then they would comment on her dialect which they described as more Onondaga than their version. Then they would give me different words and phrases to ask her in class to test her. My grandfather would tell me to ask her what “cee-sah” meant, which means “you’re ugly.” I’ve got other ones, but this example illustrates a couple of things about the language within the Tuscarora community. First, the living language of Tuscarora was spoken by most of the grandparents in my generation. My parents didn’t speak it and that’s where the language was interrupted. Another thing that I recognize is how difficult it is for the language teachers because everyone in our community believes their version of the language is correct and like any language, we had many ways to say the same thing. I probably didn’t spell “you’re ugly” correctly in Tuscarora because we did not have a systematic or agreed upon alphabet that I am up to speed on. Now, I find it difficult to communicate in this blog because of the limitations of writing the Tuscarora language. Nya:weh.

    1. conceptualizingtuscarora says:

      Interesting comment on the limitations of blogging! I too have had certain difficulties in describing the language in a textual format and have since turned to video clips. It might be nice to record the memories that you have of your grandparents.

  2. Jake says:

    that’s a really sweet message, I’m glad you took her advice and kept up the blog because it really has a lot of good thoughts in it.

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