Menominee Create Language Mentorships

Aug 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-4: Native Arts Education, Tribal College News

Menominee Culture Institute Director Alan Caldwell presented a portrait of former Tribal Chairman Glen Miller at the dedication. The portrait was painted by local Menominee artist Janice Rabideaux-Kriege (right). Photo by Mike Wilber

The Administration for Native Americans has awarded the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) a two-year grant for Native language preservation. The project, titled “Omaeqnomenew-Kiketwan Kaekenohamowekow Mesek Natamowekow” (Menominee Language Teacher and Helper), began last October on the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeast Wisconsin.

Native speakers serve as Kaekenhamowekow (teachers) in a one-on-one mentorship with Natamowekow (helpers). Together they also develop instructional resources to be used by the project and by others. The teacher provides direct instruction in the Menominee language during the first year of the project. The helpers continue their language instruction in the second year while taking CMN classes in academic courses such as teaching methods, curriculum planning, and resource development.

The project responds to a Menominee tribal ordinance, the Menominee Nation Language and Culture Code, which mandates teaching the Menominee language in all educational institutions on the reservation. Presently, there are not enough Menominee language instructors to fully implement the ordinance in the reservation schools. At the completion of the two-year project, the Natamowekow will be eligible to apply under the ordinance for certification.

Alan Caldwell, CMN dean of student services and Menominee Culture Institute director, said, “It is clear that the language is in a serious state of decline. This is an excellent opportunity for CMN to increase the pool of native Menominee speakers and develop much needed language teachers for our schools.” Estimates of fluent speakers range from 35 to 75 in a tribal population of 7,600 members.

The college opened its doors in 1993. In January 1999, it dedicated a new 15,600 square foot addition to the late Glen T. Miller, the former Menominee tribal chairman whose efforts led to the college’s establishment. Glen Miller Hall nearly doubles the size of college facilities. It houses a library, computer lab, technology center, classrooms, laboratory, and offices. Money for the expansion project came from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Menominee tribal grants. Local Menominee contractors constructed the addition.

For more information on the language project, contact the College of Menominee Nation, Menominee Culture Institute, P.O. Box 1179, Keshena, Wis. 54135, (715) 799-5668 or contact Alan Caldwell by e-mail at <>.

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