KIOS-FM

Omaha Tribe in Nebraska to boost native language revitalization

Dec 6, 2016

Omaha is a language that has been endangered for decades and is currently struggling to add new speakers.


Wil Meya, Executive Director of The Language Conservancy, says there are about 12 fluent speakers of the Omaha language at present, all of whom are over the age of 70. 

He says The Language Conservancy is well-known in the Northern Plains area where they are working with 12 other tribes to create teaching materials needed to build language infrastructure in these communities. 

Thanks to a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the Omaha tribe reached out to The Language Conservancy to help them develop a pre-K through high school language education program.

"So these languages have been used and spoken for thousands of years well before the arrival of Europeans.  So they embed the culture, the songs, the stories, and the dances, all of the information and oral tradition of these cultures.  And when you lose a language, you lose that connection, that thread, the continuity of that connection to the past, to the traditional understanding.”

The Omaha language program will be offered at the Omaha Nation Public School, the Walthill Public School and the Omaha Tribal Education Department.

For more information, the website is TheLanguageConservancy.org.