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NPR: Relying on social media to keep Native languages alive

Filed Under: Education | Technology | World
More on: internet, languages, ojibwe

Translating words into the Ojibwe language. Photo from

NPR reports on efforts to keep Native languages alive on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites:
The creators and contributors of — a website that seeks to preserve Anishinaabemowin, an endangered Native American language from Michigan — use Facebook in a similar manner. contributor Margaret Noodin is an assistant professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The language has 8,000-10,000 speakers, she says. But most of the native speakers are over 70 years old, placing the language under threat.

"That's the most dangerous thing. There are very few young kids that are growing up in a fluent environment," Noodin says.

Although the group doesn't rely solely on social media to disseminate content, Noodin says that gives the group a chance to reach younger generations.

"It's how kids communicate now. It's little moments here and there. And that adds up ... . If we don't use the language creatively into the future then what we're doing is documenting a language that's dying ... . Our language is alive and it's staying alive," she says.

Get the Story:
For Rare Languages, Social Media Provide New Hope (NPR 7/26)

Related Stories:
NIEA heads to Capitol Hill to advocate for Native language bills (7/28)

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