Wed October 24, 2012
A Green Bay School Hopes to Help Preserve a Language
A Green Bay public elementary school is reaching out to its native American students. MacArthur Elementary now flies the Oneida nation's flag and offers lessons in the tribe's language.
Students gathered to raise the Oneida flag which will fly beneath the flag of the United States. Then they cheered as wildlife sanctuary workers released a bald eagle back into the wild.
MacArthur Elementary is a Green Bay public school, but is on the Oneida reservation so it has many native students. Michelle Danforth is a spokesperson for the Oneida Nation, "Raising a tribal flag with the American flag is completely new. I think the kids who go to school with Oneida kids, it's a kind of new respect of, 'we go to school together, we live in the same community, and we have to grow up together.'"
Twenty four kids take after school lessons the Oneida language, they include fifth grader, and tribal member, CJ Summers, "My dad said I needed to learn some because my dad always talked to me in Oneida when I was little and then I started to learn some. I wanted to take the Oneida language."
That's good news to Danforth since the language is more endangered than the bald eagle which was released just a few minutes earlier, "Our Oneida language is the center of who we are. All of our ceremonies, everything that we, that it's about is the language. And if you lose the language you lose the central focus of who you are."
The Oneida classes are taught by two volunteers from the tribe. The lessons are offered to students as young as kindergartners.