Talk Sauk is catching on at Shawnee High School.

Talk Sauk is catching on at Shawnee High School.

Sauk is the language of the Sac and Fox tribe, and a beginning course was implemented this semester at Shawnee High School.

The students are progressing very well, according to teacher Mosiah Bluecloud. Before fall break the students were speaking in full sentences, he added.

“That happened a lot earlier than I thought it would,” Bluecloud said. “They’re acquiring the language very well.”

“They’re really attentive,” he said of his students.

Bluecloud said he enjoys teaching the class as much as students seem to enjoy learning.

“The different learning styles fascinate me,” he said. “Sometimes the quiet ones will just explode with something brilliant.”

The class was part of an effort by the Sauk Language Department to keep the language alive, as there are estimated to be less than five fluent speakers alive today. The Sauk language department worked with Shawnee High School Principal Lee Hamilton to implement the class this year.

“From the school’s point of view, the class is progressing very well,” Hamilton said.

The class meets requirements for foreign language credits, and is funded through the Sauk language department, so it seemed like a win-win for the school and students, Hamilton said.

“I’m very happy to have it in the school,” he added.

“It’s a fun class,” student Allen Akins said. “I look forward to going to class every morning.”

Akins wanted to take the class because he is part of the Sac and Fox tribe.

“I wanted to learn more of my language because I didn’t know anything,” he said.

Kasie Birdshead, another student, encouraged more students to take the class next year.

Students are encouraged to practice what they’ve learned by teaching it to others outside of class. Birdshead is teaching her grandmother.

“She asks me what I’ve learned every day,” she said. “She makes me teach her all the new words.”

Jesse Jones had never heard of the Sauk language before taking this class.

“I took this class mainly because I was interested in learning a foreign language other than Spanish or French,” Jones said.

Latosha Roberts praised Bluecloud’s teaching.

“He does a really good job teaching us, he really tries his hardest,” Roberts said.

Roberts said she was excited when the class came to the high school.

“It’s really the fact that I’m Indian,” she said. “I always wanted to speak it, but couldn’t.”

“It was like an opportunity that never came along,” Roberts added.

This class is the first of what the Sauk language department hopes will become a college program.

“This is the first step a student can take on what could be their life’s work,” Jacob Manatowa-Bailey, director of the Sauk Language Department, said.

The language department hopes a few students will go on to become endangered language teachers and further help the Sauk language.

“I’m just constantly surprised and gratified at how interested students are in learning the Sauk language,” Manatowa-Bailey said.