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Chapter 21, Teaching Indigenous Languages edited by Jon Reyhner (pp. 148-262). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Copyright 1997 by Northern Arizona University.

Four Successful Indigenous Language Programs

Dawn B. Stiles

This paper compares Cree, Hualapai, Maori, and Hawaiian indigenous language programs and describes common components and problems of implementation. Characteristics shared by the four programs are discussed in regard to their implications for other language groups interested in implementing their own programs. The author concludes that successful programs need to link language and culture, need written teaching materials, and need community support and parental involvement and that successful programs can fight gang activity, alcohol and drug abuse, and a high dropout rates in indigenous communities.
This paper examines four indigenous language programs to compare common components, problems, and outcomes. The programs are Cree Way in Quebec, Hualapai in Arizona, Te Kohanga Reo in New Zealand, and Punana Leo in Hawai'i. The programs were chosen based on four criteria. First, the indigenous language can be categorized as in Stage 6 using Fishman's (1991) graded intergenerational disruption scale for threatened languages or in Stage 3 using Schmidt's (1990) scale--the language is no longer transmitted to the younger generation (in the home or in the community). Only some older people still speak the native tongue as their primary language, and everyday communication uses a replacement language (English in these four communities). The range of speech styles is limited and semi-speakers exist in the middle generations. A semi-speaker is an individual who understands but does not speak the language in its standard form (Schmidt, 1990). According to Dixon,
Languages at [Schmidt's] Stage 3 are well on their way towards being replaced by English. But this process may be halted or at least slowed down if the right sort of programs are introduced. These are languages for which there is some chance of survival although not, in most cases, a very high chance. (1989, p. 31)
Second, the programs have common components: curriculum development, community support, parent involvement, and government support. The programs also have common histories as they all began as tribal movements in reaction to the lack of tribal language use by school children. Third, the programs exist in different countries where governmental influence and support could be considered for comparison. The two United States tribal groups, Hualapai and Hawaiian, have historical differences and Hawaiian Natives are considered a separate ethnic group from American Indians. Fourth, the programs have been held up to the bilingual professional community as model programs for endangered indigenous languages.

The Cree Way project

The Cree tribe in Quebec inhabits several village communities, some of which have maintained their language and others have not. The Cree of Waskaganish live along the eastern shore of James Bay, seven hundred miles north of Quebec, one of eight villages along James Bay. The community, in 1993, had a population of 1,400, 485 of whom were school age children. Traditionally, the Cree were hunters and gatherers, successfully adapting to the severe environment. Natural surroundings have deteriorated with the influx of human population and the James Bay hydroelectric dams. Mandatory federal public school attendance came to Waskaganish in the early 1960's.

In 1973, The Cree Way Project1 was created by John Murdoch, a principal, in reaction to the inappropriateness of Canadian developed curriculum for the Cree children. The purpose of the project was to "bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between two alien nations: the native peoplesnomadic hunters and the European Canadians--once agricultural, now post-industrial city dwellers" (Feurer, 1990, p. 7). The goals of the project were to use Cree language in the schools to validate Cree culture and create a Cree tribal identity, to make reading and writing more important within their previously oral culture, to create a curriculum reflecting Cree culture and the Cree conceptual framework, and to implement that curriculum in the public schools.

A Cree syllabic had been developed over a hundred years ago, however in 1973 neither Cree language materials for education purposes existed nor did the Cree population read or write in Cree. A resource language instructor began teaching the Cree syllabics in half hour programs each day in each classroom, and a team of Waskaganish Cree tribal members began developing curriculum materials and resources, such as handicrafts, for classroom use. The present program employs three staff people for cultural and language development. Seven other communities at James Bay have also implemented the program and use the over 500 textbooks in Cree that have been developed in local workshops.

In 1988, a Cree immersion program at a preschool level was instituted in reaction to code-switching or "sloppy" Cree being used by teen language learners. Traditionalist tribal members viewed these habits as a loss of linguistic competence. The purpose of the immersion program was to prevent language loss and promote proficiency before public school exposure. In 1989, the immersion program extended to kindergarten. In 1993, grade one was added and another grade level was added each year up to grade four. In grade four, half the subjects will be taught in Cree and half in either French or English. Beginning in the fifth grade, the French or English curriculum is followed with Cree culture enrichment in regular doses, including reading and writing Cree syllabics. This program continues through high school.

Because of the encroachments of technology, trapping, and hunting are no longer the sole livelihood of the Cree at Waskaganish. Cultural experiences important to the transmission of tradition are fulfilled in two unique programs supported by the school boards. Four or five times a year, the students go to bush camp funded by the Cree Trapper Association. At camp, tribal resource people teach traditional skills in trapping, beading, snowshoe construction, cooking, and fur tanning. Students write in Cree about the camp in their journals. Also, summer vacation has been shortened to allow one week in the fall and three weeks in the spring for hunting and ceremonial programs. Students can use these times to accompany elders and family on hunts or to ceremonies.

Support for the Cree Way Project originates at a higher government level than the local school board. Public education in Canada is under provincial governance; however, Indian education is designated under federal rule. Funds and control is delegated back to the provinces under the Ministry of Indian Affairs. In 1970, Quebec recognized the right of native peoples to have their native languages taught in public schools. A unique 1975 agreement by James Bay and Northern Quebec puts authority for schools directly in tribal hands. Each community has a locally elected school board that governs language policy, curriculum, and textbook approval. The board employs a staff and is self-administrating (Feurer, 1994).

Academic support also exists at the university level. In 1973 at the start of the program, Cree teacher certification was impossible. The University of Quebec began a certification program for language teachers in James Bay communities. Presently, McGill University continues these programs. Consequently, an ever increasing number of native speakers are certified as teachers. Fifty percent of the teaching staff at Waskaganish are native Cree.

Staff development offered in regular workshops are sponsored by the local school boards. Teachers work cooperatively to develop culturally relevant curriculum and train themselves to teach in the Cree Way. Local resource centers support the curriculum with locally developed reference materials, crafts, and artifacts.

The current status of this program demonstrates its continued viability in the Cree communities. The high school dropout rate has been reduced, although specific percentages were not reported by researchers as the high school population must leave the reservation to attend provincial schools. Higher education graduates return to the community at the rate of 99 percent to contribute their skills to a growing bilingual community. Testing of immersion program participants that will graduate from the elementary program in 1997 is necessary to quantify results. Teachers report active participation of students in the Cree language and increased proficiency in two languages. Parents are enrolling in Cree syllabics courses, motivated by their children's language acquisition. Students in junior high and high school are now opting for formal instruction in French (70 percent) to develop a third language useful in government employment in Quebec (Feurer, 1993).

The Peach Springs Hualapai program

The Hualapai (People of the Tall Pines) Reservation is located in high desert canyon country along the rim of the Grand Canyon. In 1994, the Hualapai population was 1,700, "nearly half of whom are under the age of 16" (Watahomigie & McCarty, 1994, p. 26). Traditionally, the Hualapai were gatherers and subsistence farmers. The people lived in small bands or extended families with a headman as leader. A reservation was established in 1883. A community political organization with a tribal council has developed from reservation constraints on the band headman tradition. The reservation school system provides education, Head Start through eighth grade to an average of 220 students (Watahomigie & McCarty, 1994).

In 1976, 45 percent of the school age students spoke English as their dominant language (Zepeda & Hill, 1991). Since that time, the development of federally subsidized HUD housing has weakened traditional family cultural transmission by separating the extended families into individual households. Television and media availability has further eroded the use of the language. In 1982, 92 percent of the students came from homes where Hualapai was spoken, but the children spoke English at home and at school (Watahomigie & Yamamoto, 1992).

In 1975, the Hualapai bilingual program was developed to offer language maintenance to a rapidly eroding language. No writing system existed for the oral Hualapai language and the first several years of the program were devoted to curriculum and materials development in written Hualapai. In three years, a parallel Hualapai curriculum had been completed and in five years a fully integrated bilingual program, using the new concurrent approach, had been implemented. The new concurrent approach as described by the program director, Lucille Watahomigie, is a "balanced use of Hualapai and English, so that concepts and lexicon are formed and reinforced in both languages" (Watahomigie et al., 1994, p. 36). In 1981, the school board adopted the Hualapai Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program (HBBEP) as the official district curriculum (Watahomigie & Yamamoto, 1992).

Despite the success in development of the bilingual program, the community continued to show English gaining in use and more children came to school with English as their primary language. The program reassessed its goals and reaffirmed the resolve to develop true bilingualism for the community. A new commitment to incorporating heritage and culture and to the community involvement produced a "revaluing" of education to children and adults (Watahomigie & McCarty, 1994, p. 40). To fight fire with fire, the program turned to technology, computers, and video to capture the attention of children in the native language. A good deal of the language arts curriculum was put on computers. A state of the art video studio/television station is used by students to script and produce documentaries in Hualapai as resource materials for school and community-wide use (Zepeda & Hill 1991).

Community support is essential to this program. In the beginning, community support was nonexistent. Elders objected to Hualapai being written down. Even Hualapai language aides considered the language incapable of abstract ideas required for content embedded subjects. Parents considered English the language of the school. Parents, products of all-English schooling themselves, thought that combining English and Hualapai in the school would only confuse the children and make the dropout rate worse. Staff support and campaigning for the bilingual program won over the community. Now the preponderance of staff are Hualapai and the community has participated in the development of resources and in school activities. Seventy-five percent of the parents participate in school events and classroom volunteering (Watahomigie & Yamamoto, 1987).

Staff development is of primary importance to the program. The staff meets twice a week for language study. Frequent in-service training and summer institute attendance at the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) enables the staff to create materials and reevaluate curriculum components. AILDI was developed by the founder of the Hualapai program, Lucille Watahomigie, as a training ground for community language speakers to become research linguists in their own language. Courses in curriculum development originally through Northern Arizona University insured competent tribal instructors to assist in the classroom while they earned certification as teachers. Nonnative staff attendance at summer linguistic institutes further prepared them to use the native language in the classroom (Watahomigie & Yamamoto, 1987).

Governmental support has also been of primary importance to the program. Such support from the state has been assured because of the remote location of the reservation school system. There is no alternative but to have the school on the reservation. The presence of two certified teachers, also tribal members, promoted the right atmosphere to create the bilingual program, and the school principal position has been held by Hualapais. Both of the previously mentioned teachers have served on the Council (one as Tribal Chairman), which facilitated a close working relationship between entities. At the community level, a parent advisory committee, established in 1975 at the very beginning of the program, meets regularly to suggest policy and to participate in staff development training sessions.

The current status of the Hualapai bilingual/bicultural program suggests that growth and success will continue. The tribal preschool and Head Start program, staffed mostly by Hualapai speakers, prepares their students for the bilingual classrooms of the primary grades. Although not described as an immersion program, the greatest extent of immersion in Hualapai is here at first school contact. Reinforcement of English is plentiful outside the classroom.

Then, too, the spotlight on the program from linguistic professionals has brought in many federal dollars to support the program. The program director, however, has used the abundance of funding to lay a permanent foundation of trained community resource people so that as federal support recedes, the program will not suffer. Any research done by professionals about the program must produce usable curricula and resources which are left with the program (Watahomigie & McCarty, 1994).

Te Kohanga Reo

The Maori people of New Zealand comprise 15 percent of the New Zealand population of approximately four million people. At first contact with Europeans, 75 percent of the native population died of disease. The history of the Maori reads like the history of the Native American tribes; land taken without treaties, slaughter, and subhuman treatment (Holmes, 1992). The Maori have a common language regardless of where in New Zealand they reside. The tribes trace their ancestry to Polynesian migrants about 800 AD or earlier and followed by other waves of migration, the last major influx at about 1300 AD. Tribes based on family ancestry were further divided into subgroups that lived in villages. They hunted, gathered, and practiced subsistence agriculture. The public meeting house was the center of village life.

In the early 1960's, a Play Centre preschool movement encouraged Maori mothers to use English with their children. This practice, in conjunction with the greater presence of television in Maori homes, helped to accelerate Maori language loss. By 1980, four Maori model bilingual programs, based in primary schools as a kind of "headstart program", had been developed. But these were local in impact and not suitable for widespread use because instead of attracting disadvantaged children, the opposite occurred. Middle class parents became keen to send their youngsters there. In 1981, the Department of Maori Affairs brought together Maori leaders who conceptualized a grassroots or whanau movement designed to revitalize the dying Maori language in language nests (Spolsky, 1990). In the nests, children from birth to eight years of age would be exposed to the Maori language in a homelike atmosphere. Part of this early childhood education system would be called the te kohanga reo, a preschool where Maori children would be immersed in the native language. At this point, the cultural knowledge development across the curriculum did not exist, just the spoken language (Holmes, 1992). By 1991, 700 kohanga had been established and 10,000 children had been enrolled in them. However, only eleven primary bilingual school programs (kura kaupapa) existed into which to funnel all those children (Holmes, 1991). As of 1994, twenty-nine kura kaupapa Maori schools had been established or approved for start up (Maori Initiatives, 1997). It has been the goal of the program to reintroduce and revitalize the Maori language, to reattach the language to the people at the community level. The te kohanga reo would facilitate the children's entry into school by establishing practical and social skills and Maori pride (Cazden, Snow, & Heise-Paigorkia, 1990).

About half the te kohanga reo are located on Maori land in tribal buildings. The other half are operating in government school buildings, community facilities or homes. The preschools enroll ten to seventy students. Ten percent of the adults, teachers, and aides are paid. The majority of workers are volunteer parents and elders. Only fluent speakers and cultural models can be teachers or aides and are, therefore, the older generation. Conflicts have arisen between nonspeaking parents and the staff on cultural issues. Community leaders are also concerned that the most adults in the kohanga are female and very few male role models are available to the children (Cazden et al., 1990).

Government involvement from the beginning of the te kohanga movement has been nominally supportive. It was a government initiative through the Department of Maori Affairs that established the Te Kohanga Reo (TKR) in 1982. A charitable trust was created to facilitate a partnership between the Maori People and the government. The movement receives support also from the Department of Labor for whanau (community helpers or volunteers) training. In 1989, a reorganized Department of Maori Affairs became the Ministry of Maori Affairs with authority to make policy for the tribal programs. The new Ministry delegated control to the tribal entities. In 1990, funding for all early childhood education programs was equalized and based on the number of children enrolled in each session (Cazden et al., 1990).

The nominal governmental support has been overshadowed by the actual practice in schools where graduates of the te kohanga reo must continue their education. In 1986, claims were brought before the Department of Justice tribunals in an effort to bring more equality for Maori children in public schools. These tribunals raved about the success of the TKR but then admitted the failure of the government to maintain the language and culture as promised in the Treaty of Waitangi. Schools are monocultural with much power residing in the principal who may choose correspondence study as the alternative to bilingual classrooms. Tribunal records consulted on the Internet expose the practices in schools to be very detrimental to Maori students. The Education Department is aware of the inequalities and desires to remedy the situation but seems powerless to do so in a reasonable time frame (Waitangi Tribunal, 1997). Even the reports of the tribunals in 1986 did not prompt action; it was not until 1989 that Maori began to be used as the language of instruction in public schools, after much active pressure by parents (Spolsky, 1990).

The community and staff support of the program are the main reason the current status of the TKR programs is positive and growing. The kohanga depend on considerable volunteer power, with the benefit of cultural certification of the kaiakos (teachers and aides), coupled with formal approved training now in place and involving 600 trainees. TKR's located on tribal lands exist with donations from the community and parents who can ill afford the expense (Cazden et al., 1990). The cultural and language enrichment is so very important to the people that the State Services Commission has assessed the program as a remarkable success story (Maori Initiatives, 1997). Initially without outside support, it now has increased support from public and private sectors. Today te kohanga reo is government funded like other preschool services. However, donations are still required. The program has found great admiration in other countries and at least one program has tried to replicate it, the Punana Leo in Hawai'i.

Punana Leo

The Hawaiian people, like the Maori, are Polynesian migrating to Hawai'i about 400 AD, followed by a second migration in the ninth or tenth century AD. Settlers in villages were governed by a hereditary monarchy. With the settlement of Europeans and American missionaries, traders, and businessmen came diseases that decimated the native population. The monarchical system was overthrown and replaced by a U. S. Territorial Government, and eventually by U.S. statehood. Literacy in Hawaiian was the work of the nineteenth century Protestant missionaries. They developed a writing system in order to translate the Bible and hymn books into Hawaiian because literacy was required by Protestants for church membership. The monarchy began an effort for adult literacy education and by 1830 half of the population could read and write Hawaiian. After 1830, schools were taught in Hawaiian; most members of the royal family were multilingual (Slaughter, 1994).

By the early 1990's however, only 4.5 percent of the native Hawaiians were native speakers, most over 50 years of age. Very few children spoke the language or would have the opportunity to learn it. Hawaiian medium public schools had been out of operation for 90 years. One island of the Hawaiian chain, Ni'ihau, could still claim Hawaiian as the language of the community, and a few preschools housed in private homes used Hawaiian exclusively (Kamana & Wilson, 1995). The founders visited the Maori preschools in New Zealand (Aotearoa) and in 1985 started two preschools in the larger cities at Hilo and Honolulu. In 1987, the parents of the first graduates of Punana Leo petitioned the state to set up two immersion kindergartens for their children. The state began an immersion K-1 program in two elementary schools (Kame'eleihiwa, 1992).

The goals of the Punana Leo were to promote Hawaiian as a living language and to create an educational program that produces bilingual, biliterate children. In compliance with those goals, the immersion into the language is very complete. Children have ten hour days, and on the school grounds only Hawaiian is spoken. Visitors use interpreters even if English is understood (Zepeda & Hill, 1991). Parental involvement in the program is essential to reinforce the use of the language at home. Language classes must be attended weekly by all parents. Classes start for one hour and increase in length to two and three hours as proficiency improves (Kamana & Wilson, 1996). Other parental duties to the school include paying tuition based on income, which since 1989, has been subsidized by the U.S. Department of Education. Ninety-five percent of the families receive tuition assistance. Eight hours per month of in-kind service to the school is also required, and parents make up the governance board of the school (Rawlins, 1994).

Obviously, governmental support has helped to promote the immersion preschools. A well established State Department of Education immersion program, Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai'i, now extends statewide through grade twelve because of the example of the effectiveness of Punana Leo. Although federal funding, especially for Punana Leo, is unstable, the rest of the school system now supports immersion programs. The Kamehameha Schools, large well endowed private schools, have also taken a hard look at Punana Leo immersion concepts and provided sporadic support in the form of instructional materials and professional development (Paleka & Hammond, 1992).

In 1996 nine Punana Leo sites served 175 children (Kamana & Wilson, 1996). Long term follow up for research data will continue on 866 previous graduates (Rawlins, 1994). In such a relatively new program, a lack of trained, fluent teachers and top quality resources and curriculum materials have been stumbling blocks (Kame'eleihiwa, 1992).


The four programs described above are open to many comparisons. All four have common program components, common problems affecting implementation and growth, and common outcomes. A review of these areas will assist the formulation of conclusions. Each has an integral partnership of language and culture. Teaching a language in a sterile environment outside the companion culture dooms the language to only academic application. Each of these programs has developed curriculum that combines indigenous language and cultural instruction. Language is learned as a by product, almost, of the cultural heritage. Using literacy to further validate the use of the language in everyday life has transformed these formerly oral languages into languages that can be used for academic instruction in schools. Each program became a place where the children can get away from English and immerse themselves in their tribal language, and each program has paid careful attention to incorporate student literature creation in cultural contexts to link language, culture, reading, and writing.

The need for written teaching materials is a common problem for these programs. Textbook companies do not make, as a rule, textbooks for a few thousand children in an obscure language. This means that the programs have to develop their own materials, which takes years of dedicated work. First, as in the Hualapai program, much of the first five years was spent in negotiating how to write the language (Watahomigie & Yamamoto, 1987). Second, time is required to teach the new writing system to local community members. The Cree spent more than five years training a staff of speakers to write Cree materials so that texts could be developed (Feurer, 1993). Printing costs for materials can also be prohibitive to a program, particularly in light of fluctuating funding. Without these materials, a program's emphasis on the language as viable for academic use can be lost.

Another common component is that of community support and involvement. The literature on each of these programs reiterated several times how necessary the support of tribal members was to program success. The cultural connection cannot be made to the language without those who know the culture best. Usually this is the elders, still fluent, still "inextricably associated, intimately tied" to the culture (Fishman, 1987, p. 12). This connection is important to the students also, as evidenced in the high percentage of Cree school children (80%) who choose to take the special vacations with elders and their families (Feurer, 1990).

Community is also important to insure the transmission of societal foundations to future generations. Stephen Harris (1994) speaks about domains of culture, the Western domain and the Native (aboriginal) domain, "Hopefully students will see themselves as aboriginal people with bicultural skills--having a strengthening and primary Aboriginal identity, but competent and confident in two social worlds" (Harris 1994, p. 143-144). This community involvement requires local control of the school system. All four of these programs were made possible by measures of local control and that control made possible unusual formations of curriculum.

But the close community ties have often presented difficulties in initiating indigenous language programs. All of the communities in these four programs experienced community objections to a program that taught the native tongue so seriously. Elders objected to the writing of the language (Cree and Hualapai); elders and parents feared teaching the children a language other than English because of past oppression for use of their native language (all programs); parents as non-speakers doubted the ability of their children to achieve fluency; and teachers were convinced the languages were unsuitable for academic endeavors.

Parental involvement is another common component of all four programs. The most important element for these programs is the support of the parents in the home. The language learned at school must be reinforced at home in order for true bilingualism to occur in indigenous languages. "Everyday use of language in a wide range of contexts provides language with its life blood through a self-generating process--the more people hear and use the language, the more fluent and confident in language use they become" (Schmidt, 1990, p. 56). Everyday use can not occur in a vacuum and parental involvement in these programs has extended to language classes, in-service training, classroom participation, development of resources, and certification as teachers. These four programs have attained their measure of success because parents have not given up on the dream. Parents, who were once against a program, have even gone before Congress to testify on behalf of the program they believe to be integral to the educational success of their children (Rawlins, 1994). In other nations, parents have lobbied their governments to give support to the programs. In New Zealand, Maori parents have presented a claim against the Department of Education to redress the governments lack of support (Waitangi Tribunal, 1997).

Some common problems to these programs have already been discussed as they affected the common components. Other common problems exist within these programs, including teacher availability, teacher training, and funding. Sources on all four of these programs mentioned the problem of finding fluent speakers of the language with any training to be teachers. In all the programs, compliance with government standards for teacher training has been a major stumbling block to success.2 It is not a problem easily addressed because certification cannot occur overnight or even over several years. The Hualapai, for example, after nineteen years have certified five teachers (Watahomigie & McCarty, 1994). Even if the training problem is supported by colleges and universities, as with the Cree, Hualapai, and Hawaiian programs, time is not on the side of the trainees. Programs must recruit staff from outside the community, and a high turnover rate hinders the programs. In all the communities, a majority of fluent speakers are elderly, not capable of taking on the rigors of teaching or the rigors of certification coursework. The Hualapai are the least affected by this problem as half of the parental age group still have fluency (Watahomigie et al., 1994).

Problems with funding are mentioned to be of major importance in all but the Hualapai Program. Lucille Watahomigie has worked tirelessly with the professional linguistic community to generate federal funding as a demonstration project. She has stated in her more recent articles (Watahomigie et al., 1992, 1994) that she does not expect that trend to last and has sought to plan against it. The other programs listed unstable funding as a major detriment to their success. Help from the government is verbal but not budgetary. The Cree, with some local funding control, have found it less of a problem as years go by. Is this any different from the funding for education in any language? But authorities have not been convinced of the seriousness of the problem of language loss. Even though evidence has been given for years of the academic success of children given a bilingual/bicultural education, the funding is still not provided to those most in need.

As a final point of comparison, discussion on common outcomes in these programs should take place. It can be said that because these four programs have remained in existence, they have made a difference in the communities they serve. A definite "revaluing of education at all levels" has occurred in each community (Watahomigie, 1995, p. 192). More children are succeeding further within the educational system as a result of their exposure to bilingual/bicultural education. One hundred percent of the eighth grade graduates at Hualapai Peach Springs School, graduate from high school (Watahomigie, 1995). The Cree have noticed a significant drop in their dropout rate (Feurer, 1993). On the governmental level, the Hawaiian Board of Education has developed immersion program in the K-12 against the advice of the Department of Education (Kame'eleikiwa, 1992). The New Zealand Department of Education is seeking to support the Te Kohanga Reo movement by developing bilingual schools within the public school system (Maori Initiatives, 1997).

The benefit of these programs within the community extends also to the pride developed and identity regained by the children who attend. Loss of language carries with it a loss of culture and a loss of identity. Children enrolled in these programs have a much greater sense of who they are and have regained at least a sense of heritage. Loss of identity for teenagers can lead to gang activity, alcohol and drug abuse, and a high dropout rate.

The revitalization or rejuvenation of an endangered language is another significant outcome for the community. It is much too soon to tell if the languages will make a complete recovery, but these programs have "helped to upgrade the level of proficiency in the native language" (Feurer, 1993). The importance of the Hawaiian language in Hawaiian schools has been validated by the academic success of the Punana Leo students. New Zealand educators have witnessed five year old Te Kohanga Reo students exceeding the proficiency of Fifth Form (about fifteen-year-old) students in state oral exams (Waitangi Tribunals, 1997). The Hualapai have adapted the Hualapai Oral Language Test and Language Assessment Scales (LAS) tests to assess language acquisition and have recorded improvements in skills in Hualapai. They have also noticed improvements in the students' test scores on the English language California Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).


The positive outcomes from these programs cannot be denied. Can it then be assumed that all these programs have been effective and are models for other indigenous language programs worldwide? It has been shown that each of these programs have goals to promote biliteracy and bilingualism. Each has done just that. The Cree Way Project has the most clearly delineated goals, but the other programs examined here have set in motion a system that can keep their languages alive. The fact that several research articles on each program are available and more research is underway encourages thoughts that these programs are a success and will continue to succeed. Planners have taken their projects very seriously, undergirding their development with research on theory on second language acquisition, bilingual, and immersion education. Articles are often filled with references to Cummins, Vygotsky, Lambert, and Fishman.

Very importantly, when compared to indigenous language programs that are not grounded on bicultural/bilingual goals and acquisition theory, a great contrast is seen. For example, a program in Nebraska that attempted to preserve the Omaha language within the public schools was reported on by Catherine Rudin in 1989. The program had problems caused by no materials, no fluent teachers, and culturally inappropriate translated stories. Rudin concluded that none of the children enrolled in the program (which began in 1970) have the ability to carry on a conversation in Omaha. She writes, "The program has had a positive impact on the level of Omaha proficiency of the young people: some is better than none" (Rudin, 1989, p. 6). This program is older than any of these outlined but has met with little success in comparison. The Omaha program met similar problems as the other programs and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in 1988. Wherein lies the difference?

In all the programs so far discussed, planning with the community and problem solving with community support has developed strong adaptable components. The Omaha program spoke of pleased parents and elders because children were more aware of their culture and language, but also mentioned a lack of community support in linguistic training and active resource development (Rudin, 1989). These grounding elements painstakingly developed by the four programs described herein are the key to prolonged success. These elements are also the reason that replication of the programs has been and will be possible. The Te Kohanga Reo program was replicated in the Punana Leo in Hawai'i. The Hualapai project has been helping other bilingual/bicultural programs get underway, for example the Oklahoma Kickapoo Program (Watahomigie et al., 1987). The Cree Project of Waskaganish has been replicated by other James Bay communities and in Cree communities elsewhere in Quebec. In each case, the community teamwork and groundwork over several years had made it successful when compared with other attempts.

What conclusions can be drawn from the study of these four programs in regard to bilingual/bicultural education? Indigenous language groups cannot use programs imposed from the outside culture. Home and community are too tightly interwoven into the mechanisms of language education to be influenced by sources outside the culture. Culture cannot be separated from language. Therefore, the indigenous people must take the challenge themselves to meet their needs, while the majority society can help provide consistent funding, research foundations, linguistic expertise, and pedagogical (teacher) training.

Each of these four programs has recognized the importance of beginning at an early age with children. Each program begins exposure in preschool and first language support until at least the fifth grade. In the Maori program, loss of language skills was seen in those students without continued support in primary school immersion. Harris (1994) discusses the domain theory in relation to separating the two languages: there is a need to "create curricular space for less powerful language and culture which is in danger of being colonized by a dominant, pervasive, and invasive culture." The culture and the language carve out a territory and "within this territory the first culturefar from remaining static--expands, innovates, evolves, and reenacts the old, the inherited, the source of roots, claims, and identity" (Harris, 1994, p. 151-152). Indigenous programs have carved out their territory and have established a wealth of good research data on the pluses of bilingual education. They have done much to prove the theories the majority education system tosses around for argument. The majority society cannot successfully impose programs on the indigenous culture, but successful components from indigenous programs could be transferred to the majority system for use in bilingual/bicultural education of other minority groups and for the development of dual language programs to teaching minority languages to majority group members as minority group students learn the national language of their country.


1The information on the Cree of Waskaganish was obtained from two articles by the same researcher, Hanny Feurer, written in 1990 and 1993. References within the text are found in both articles unless specifically noted.

2The Hawaiian legislature has shown willingness to assist the Hawaiian language immersion programs with the problem of teacher certification by exempting staff members from certification who teach solely in Hawaiian.


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