André Cramblit: Tribes must make language survival a top priority

Mt. Shasta in California is known as Úytaahkoo or "White Mountain" in the language of the Karuk Tribe. Photo: Don Graham

André Cramblit, a citizen of the Karuk Tribe, explains why language education is so important in Indian Country:
Ayukîi. yav pamáh’iit. Nani aaréek íimshaapaneech. Naa káruk áraara, káru vúra má’su’araara. Naa káru nani’áraaras kah’tim’îin nu’aramsîiprivti. Pay kúma súpaah naa ôok pa’ítapa hih. Nanu’áxiitichas pananu’árarakuupha nukshúphihi. Pananupíkva, panaupákuriha, pananu’íha nuu uum vúra nuu. Akâayva toopítih “pufaat váhih chúuphansas kári xás pufaat áraaras, vúra áraaras mukun’áxiitichas.” Pa’áxiitichas kunîineesh uum pananukyáviichva. Nixuti koovúra pa’áraars kíri kun’íishipriviti. Panani’óonva káru pananifyíivshas yôotva. Koovúra yôotva.

Good morning. Hello, my name is André. I am a Karuk tribal member from the Klamath and Salmon rivers. I am from the village of Katiimiin. I am here today to speak about language. It is important to teach our children the Native language and traditions (or culture) of our people. It is our stories, songs and dances that make us who we are. Someone once said, “If no one in your tribe speaks the language then you are no longer tribal members but descendants of tribal members.” It is important to pass on what we know to our children. Our future relies on what we teach the next generation. I hope that all of our people continue to grow and achieve great things. Thank you.

That was an introduction to a speech I made to the general membership of the National Indian Education Association a few years back. If you have read my previous columns you know by now I am a fervent supporter of tribal languages. I have always called myself a lottery linguist. If my numbers come up and I win millions I will quit my day job and dedicate myself to learning and teaching the Karuk language.

Read More on the Story:
André Cramblit: Our Mother Language and the Survival of Native Language As a Whole (Indian Country Media Network 4/25)

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