your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: Native youth lose connection to ancestral languages

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: languages, tim giago, youth

Tim Giago. Photo by Talli Nauman

Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)

My granddaughter will be seven-years-old in October. Like many children that age she is bright and she is inquisitive. Her name is Juneau.

Case in point: She posed this question to her grandmother; “Is the world coming to an end?” Her grandmother was a bit taken back by this inquiry and responded, “I don’t know the answer to that; only God knows.” As quick as a whip Juneau quipped, “What about Google?”

“Out of the mouths of babes,” might be applicable here. Or as Art Linkletter posed it, “Kids say the darndest things!”

But it has to make the average person stop and think. Has technology taken us to the point where our children believe that it is the answer to all questions? Has Google become so all knowing, all powerful and all seeing that it is viewed as the equation or equal to God?

It makes a person look back at where they have been and look forward and wonder where it is all going. I stopped to get a Coke and burger at MacDonald’s last week and watched two teenage girls seated at a booth next to me. They never said a word during the time I observed them, but instead had their thumbs going like crazy on their cell phones. They stopped texting just long enough to sip their soft drinks and take a bite of their burgers and fries. But they never said a word. What is going to happen to the art of conversation?

When I was a boy nearly everyone in the village of Kyle or Pejuta Haka (Medicine Root) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where I was raised spoke the Lakota language. As nearly every language is converted to text I wonder if the young people on the reservation will text in Lakota or English. I would have to assume that they will text in English. When I questioned several Lakota teenagers at a basketball tournament last year they all said that they always text in English.

In an editorial I wrote that was directed at the teachers on the Indian reservations several months ago I posed this question to them: Are the young people in your classrooms texting in English or Lakota? Will they lose the foundation of their Native tongue because of technology? Not a single teacher on the reservation or anywhere in Indian Country where my newspaper reaches responded to my question. Is it because they do not know the answer to that question or have they even bothered to consider it?

There are those in Indian Country who believe that the loss of the language means the loss of the culture, but that may not necessarily be so because every Native American civilization in North America that is still here has adapted to the rapid changes that have occurred since the invasion of their country. The rapidity of change has nearly overwhelmed every culture and nationality on this continent.

The time from the horse and buggy to a man on the moon has happened in the blink of an eye. Now even some Christians are saying that Noah had dinosaurs on the Ark. If that be so then the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere, peoples who have existed on these continents for more than 30,000 years, must have hunted and eaten dinosaurs. Ah ha, one million BC revisited.

My granddaughter Juneau wanted to know if the world was going to end. I would have to tell her that “yes” it will end eventually, and “yes” Google will tell you the same thing.

But, I will have to add that conversation in any language may go first.

Tim Giago, Nanwica Kciji (Stands Up For Them), was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is the author of 4 books and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the class of 1991 and can be reached at

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.