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TMCC Language Forums

In July 2010 Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) hosted their first Michif Elders Forum to revitalize the Michif language before it is lost to the future generations of the Turtle Mountain people. Michif is a patois which is combination of French, Cree, and Ojibwe languages that originated from the inter-marriages of French fur traders and Ojibwe women.

The forum was a first step in establishing how best to protect and preserve one of the community's local languages. The elders shared stories of long ago. Many forgotten memories came rushing to the surface. At the end of the meeting, the group shared a feast of Michif foods, boiled hamburger and potatoes (bullets), bangs (fry bread), and raisin pie.

In September 2011, TMCC hosted a weekend Ojibwe Speakers Forum. Approximately 25 elders, parents and small children gathered at the Anishinaabe Cultural and Wellness camp.

TMCC identified a critical need to revitalize, document, and preserve the languages spoken at Turtle Mountain as the elders who speak the language are growing older.

The language and spiritual practices began to die when organized religion dominated the community. Some elders kept the traditional ceremonies alive. In 1978, the United States government passed The Freedom of Religion Act. Since that time, the Anishinaabeg and the Seven Teachings have become a way of life for many in the community. But without elders' support, the languages and ceremonies will be irretrievably lost.

"The Turtle Mountain community language project has brought to light that the preservation and documentation of both languages is at a critical point,” said Larry Henry, program director and academic dean at the college.