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Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe partners with Rosetta Stone to develop Ojibwe language course

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The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in eastern Minnesota has partnered with Rosetta Stone to create a six-level course to teach the Ojibwe language. Tribal members say it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Two decades ago, 145 members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe spoke the Ojibwe language fluently.

In the past couple of years, that number has dropped to 20.

The Mille Lacs Band is trying to reverse the trend by partnering with Rosetta Stone to create an Ojibwe language course that is both multi-level and easily accessible.

Baabiitaw, a senior advisor for the tribe’s language revitalization initiative, says the Rosetta Stone platform is so valuable partly because there aren’t many opportunities to learn Ojibwe.

“There are a couple of immersion schools out there that have lots of experience and have done really remarkable things to develop proficiency in the classroom," she says. "But those are immersion style models, and not every school that’s in a tribal community has resources and policies to help support immersion education. Rosetta Stone is something that anybody in the world can access.”

The Mille Lacs Band is the first tribal community to invest in all six levels of instruction offered by the Rosetta Stone software.

But Baabiitaw says the investment isn’t just in language acquisition, it’s in identity.

“How better to change one’s life," she says, "than to offer them a deep look into being Ojibwe and feeling Ojibwe.”

Rosetta Stone’s Ojibwe course became available to members of the Mille Lacs band earlier this month. It will open to the public on March 1.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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