Dying Omaha native language sees hope for preservation

Posted By: Channel 8 Eyewitness News


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Omaha Tribe leaders and language instructors are gaining optimism after worrying about the uncertain future of their native language.

More than 70 people attended a five-day Umonhon course at the Nebraska Indian Community College’s inaugural Summer Language Institute last week in Macy, a city within the Omaha Reservation. Organizers say attendance was double what they expected.

Wil Meya is the executive director of the Language Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated on revitalizing indigenous languages. Meya says only about 150 of the 7,000 Omaha Tribe members can understand or speak parts of Umonhon.

Umonhon teacher Dwight Howe says today’s indigenous kids face a steeper challenge to learn the language because decades of forced assimilation.

The institute was funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Courtesy: The Omaha World-Herald