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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Shawnee High School to offer new course on endangered Sauk language

  • The Sac and Fox tribe and Shawnee High School are coming together to revitalize the Sauk language.


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  • The Sac and Fox tribe and Shawnee High School are coming together to revitalize the Sauk language.
    The high school will be offering an introductory course for the language this fall as a part of a pilot program.
    “It’s about to become a dead language, so they’re trying to revitalize it,” Shawnee High School Principal Lee Hamilton said.
    Hamilton was approached by the director of the Sauk Language Program with hopes of creating a class which could lead into a college program, Hamilton said.
    The training used for the instructor, Mosiah Bluecloud, is the same training used to teach college students, Hamilton said.
    “It was a good fit,” he added.
    The school received 67 student requests to take the class, and enrollment was not limited to Native American students.
    “There were plenty of kids who wanted to take the class,” Hamilton said.
    However, as the class is only available once per day, in the mornings, only 26 students were able to take the class. These students were chosen through process of elimination, decided by whose schedule fit the class time.
    “I think the class will benefit students,” Hamilton said. “I appreciate the board of education allowing us this opportunity.”
    There are less than six fluent speakers of the Sauk language alive today, Terri Kinsey, language program coordinator for the Sauk Language Program, said.
    “It’s a critically endangered language,” she said.
    The best way to preserve this language is by teaching it to the young people, Kinsey said.
    “But in today’s busy world, it’s very difficult to get young people to attend community classes,” she added.
    So the idea became to get the class into a high school setting, and allow students to take the class for elective credits.
    “It’s a historic event for us,” Kinsey said. “We’re very excited.”

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