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New Zealanders share importance of language

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Story by Tiffany Haynes Reed

22 Maori visitors stopped in Eagle Butte on June 20. All the individuals are members of the Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language in New Zealand.

The group has made several different stops on their tour of the United States. They visited Pine Ridge and will stop in Fort Yates at Sitting Bull College to take part in the 2012 Lakota Summer Institute.

Karen Little Wounded has worked with Dr. Timoti Karetu for the last two years to organize this language and culture exchange. Dr. Karetu took part in the 2010 Lakota Summer Institute in Fort Yates.

While in Eagle Butte members of the CRST shared a bit of Lakota culture. Joe Lafferty, Lakota culture presenter, explained the various paintings on the wall of the Harry V. Johnson Cultural Center.

Paulette High Elk addressed the Maorians in Lakota. She told them about herself and shared her passion for preserving the Lakota language for future generations. High Elk has been a part of the language revitalization movement since 1998.

“I don’t want our language to die,” said High Elk. “Every 14 days our language dies.”

Jailynn Rose Knife, 5, performed a Fancy Dance for the group. The drum group Chief Hill played for Knife. Members of Chief Hill include Jerrod Charging Eagle, Morgan Valandre, Nakai Charging Eagle, Jerry Clown, Tommy Red Tomake.

The Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language started with just six fluent speakers. Through a complete immersion program the institute has grown by leaps and bounds.

The goal of the Maori people and the Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language on this trip is to share the success they have had with preserving and restoring their own language.

“The people in our group are some of the most prominent speakers in their tribe,” said Charlie TePana, member of the Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language.

To learn more about language preservation visit http://www.teipukarea.maori.nz/en/.

To learn more about Maori culture visit http://www.raukawa.org.nz.

 

 

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