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Preserving history: Little Shell dedicate

new cultural center


On May 3, 2014, the Little Shell Chippewa had the dedication ceremony for their new
cultural centre located on the historic Michif road allowance community site at Hill ! in
"reat #alls Montana$ "uest spea%ers from Canada included &aron Shmon '(irector of
)u*lishin+, and (a-id Morin 'Curriculum (e-eloper, of the "a*riel (umont .nstitute
'"(., in Sas%atoon, Sas%atchewan and /orman #leury 'author and Michif Lan+ua+e
Consultant, and Lawrence 0ar%well 'author and Coordinator of Metis Herita+e and
History 1esearch, from the Louis 1iel .nstitute in 2innipe+, Manito*a$
May 3, 2014 |
Noran !leury o" the Manito#a Louis $iel %nstitute leads a &rayer during the
dedication Saturday' ( )$%*+N, P-.).($%.N S/N0,$S
(a-id Morin, Michif pro3ect leader for "(., demonstrated 4Michif to "o,5 the first
6n+lish7to7Michif (ictionary a-aila*le for 8ndroid$ .t features o-er 11,00 translations
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and audio pronunciations *y Michif7lan+ua+e e9pert /orman #leury who wor%ed
alon+side (a-id to compose and compile the phrases$ 8 search tool allows users to loo%
up the 6n+lish word to find the Michif7Cree translations$ :his pro3ect was de-eloped *y
the "a*riel (umont .nstitute, and was funded throu+h the (epartment of Canadian
Herita+e;s 8*ori+inal Lan+ua+es .nitiati-e$ :he Media 8ccess and )roduction 'eM8),
unit of the <ni-ersity of Sas%atchewan was contracted to pro-ide the technical e9pertise
re=uired for the app$ :his app resource is also a-aila*le on the Virtual Museum of Metis
History and Culture at>
http>??www$metismuseum$ca?michif@dictionary$php
"erald "ray, the Chairman of the Little Shell :ri*e of Chippewa was presented with
Michif lan+ua+e *oo%s, dictionaries, teacherAs manuals, C(s, (B(s, Little Shell :ri*al
History research papers, posters, Metis sashes and sash lapel pins *y the "a*riel (umont
.nstitute and the Louis 1iel .nstitute as resource materials for the new Little Shell
Cultural Center$ :he "a*riel (umont .nstitute and Louis 1iel .nstitute ha-e tentati-ely
a+reed to 3oin a Little Shell Chippewa Michif Lan+ua+e consortium alon+ with :urtle
Mountain Community Colle+e in 0elcourt, /$($, Stone Child Colle+e in 0o9 6lder,
Montana and the "reat #alls School (i-ision to assist with Michif Lan+ua+e retention
and preser-ation$
Preserving history: Little Shell dedicate new cultural center
2ritten *y>
0riana 2ipf, Great Falls Tribune Staff 2riter
:he Little Shell Chippewa :ri*e cele*rated a historic day Saturday, the dedication and
+rand openin+ of the Little Shell Cultural Center at 12C Stuc%ey 1oad$
.t was a homecomin+ of sorts for the tri*e, which has faced a decades7lon+ stru++le for
federal reco+nition$ 0ut that stru++le may *e comin+ to an end 3ust as the tri*e is +earin+
up its efforts to sustain and preser-e its three lan+ua+es D Cree, Chippewa and Michif$
42e are the closest weA-e e-er *een5 to federal reco+nition, tri*al council chairman
"erald "ray told the 100 people in attendance at the tri*eAs =uarterly meetin+, which
dou*led as a collo=uium on tri*al lan+ua+e and the dedication of the cultural center$
:he landless Little Shell ha-e a little more to call their own with the cultural center$
:here will *e no more rentin+ of facilities, no more as%in+ of permission to use a
*uildin+ for meetin+s or e-ents, said former tri*al chairman Eohn "il*ert$
4:his is a +reat day,5 "il*ert said$
0ut the Little Shell did not cele*rate alone$ 2ith them were representati-es from
educational institutions in the <nited States and Canada who discussed their own
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e9perience with tri*al lan+ua+e re-italiFation$ :hose who came were, li%e the Little
Shell, of Chippewa7Cree or Michif herita+e$
:he Little Shell, alon+ with the se-en federally reco+niFed tri*es in Montana, recei-ed
G20,000 as part of the Montana .ndian Lan+ua+e )reser-ation )ilot )ro+ram, which was
created durin+ the last state le+islature to pro-idin+ fundin+ to tri*es to preser-e their
lan+ua+es$
(r$ Eim (a-is, president of :urtle Mountain Community Colle+e in 0elcourt, /$($, was
one of the spea%ers who shared their %nowled+e$
(a-is held up a Michif dictionary, which he presented to the tri*al council$ :he
dictionary holds 3H pa+es of Michif words, he said$
0ut the words on those pa+es, inert printed letters, can only come ali-e in the mouths of
spea%ers of the lan+ua+e$
4:here is so much em*edded in the lan+ua+e,5 said /icholas Brooman, a Little Shell
historian$
:he history, culture, s%ills and collecti-e e9perience of a people are within the words$
&eepin+ the words -ital, maintainin+ not only their definitions as printed in dictionary
*ut also the meanin+ con-eyed *y their use, is the challen+e, one that /ate St$ )ierre,
president of Stone Child Colle+e in 0o9 6lder on the 1oc%y 0oyAs 1eser-ation, home of
the Chippewa7Cree tri*e, thin%s can *e met$
St$ )ierre shared a Cree sayin+> Kah-ki-s-ki-mi-to-tah-n$5
.t means, 42e learn from one another$5
St$ )ierre e9plained the lin% *etween lan+ua+e and culture and that preser-in+ and
stren+thenin+ one does the same for the other$
4.tAs our tri*al (/8 D the codes of life passed on *y word of mouth,5 he said$
1epresentati-es from the Louis 1iel .nstitute and "a*riel (umont .nstitute, two
educational and cultural centers for Metis people in Canada, shared their own e9perience
in lan+ua+e preser-ation and offered their assistance to their relati-es *elow the Medicine
Line$
Michif lan+ua+e and cultural e9pert /orman #leury of the 1iel .nstitute in Manito*a,
echoed St$ )ierre, emphasiFin+ the lin% *etween lan+ua+e and culture$ 8nd while some of
the spea%ers shared stories of loss of culture and lan+ua+e, #leury said that loss isnAt
ine-ita*le$
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42e didnAt lose all these thin+s$ 2e 3ust set it aside,5 he said$
Saturday, with the confluence of Little Shell mem*ers and their Michif and Chippewa7
Cree friends and relati-es, mar%ed a day when those thin+s D culture, lan+ua+e, mores
D were pic%ed up a+ain$
.t was perhaps fittin+ for that to happen at what "ray called the 4christenin+5 of the Little
Shell Cultural Center, the tri*eAs new home *ase$
42eAre e9cited and honored to ha-e these people here$ 2hen .ndian Country *uilds
alliances, we can do anythin+,5 "ray said$ 4:hatAs what is +oin+ to help us succeed$ 8s
.ndian people, we %now weAre all related$5
Compiled *y Lawrence 0ar%well
Coordinator of Metis Herita+e and History 1esearch
Louis 1iel .nstitute
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