Language Teacher Found Learning to be Healing

May 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 14-4: Cultural Resilience, Tribal College News
By Sharon D. Rathbun

Chief Dull Knife College (CDKC) has announced the first graduate of its Northern Cheyenne Language Instructor Student Apprentice program, Adeline Spotted Elk. She received her Montana State Class Seven Language Certification in December 2002 and now can teach the Northern Cheyenne language to her tribe.

Spotted Elk, whose Indian name is Vonahe Kase hehe (Ceremonial Woman), was one of several apprentices who participated in the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant program that began in February 2002. The purpose of the program is to get tribal members state certified to teach the language and to help them acquire teaching skills. Upon completion of the program, Spotted Elk came full circle and was hired as instructor for Cheyenne language at the tribal college in Lame Deer, MT, where she will be passing on to her students the learning methodology that she acquired as an apprentice.

Spotted Elk said, “I would like to express my humbly felt gratitude to the Cultural Affairs Department for enhancing and sparking up the almost dead Cheyenne language in me. Revitalizing our Cheyenne language must be a community effort. Since my completion of the program and becoming a Cheyenne language instructor at CDKC, my self-esteem, self-confidence, and pride have soared. Speaking my language fluently and hearing and using Cheyenne names on a daily basis is a tremendously healing experience for me. I plan to continue my education in early childhood, start a daycare or preschool center, and recruit fluent Cheyenne speakers as workers. I envision the center as my ‘language nest,’ where the youngest are the best candidates for optimal language acquisition.

“Completion of my goals will be my most humble way of thanking my ancestors for the suffering and sacrifices that they made for me. Their greatest reward will be young Cheyenne children speaking the sacred Cheyenne language. I also would like to thank my instructor, Marie Sanchez, for regenerating in me what I almost lost. Thanks also to my fellow Cheyenne language apprentices whose enthusiasm and commitment inspired me. Nehemahea seme (Much thanks and gratitude to everyone).”

Sharon D. Rathbun is the Chief Dull Knife College cultural affairs administrative assistant.

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