06262019 Mohawk Language Class Presentation Photo Web
06262019 Mohawk Language Class Presentation Photo Web

Tribal Efforts Continue Strengthening Kanien’keha

Jul 3, 2019

AKWESASNE — On Wednesday, Ohiarí:ha/June 26th; the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe was proud to hear the results of its ongoing efforts to expand and strengthen Kanien’keha (Mohawk language). Before an audience of family and friends at the Ionkwakiohkwaróron Tribal Administration Building, six students enrolled in Trudy Lauzon’s language class shared their personal introductions and stories in Kanien’keha.

“We’ve become a model for other tribal communities on preserving and strengthening the language,” said SRMT Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Darren Bonaparte during the first class presentation on Onerahtókha/April 18, 2019. Bonaparte added, “It continues to be a pleasure to listen to each student’s story and to hear about their own personal efforts towards becoming fluent language speakers.”

The Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) has been offering free language instruction since 2005, but participation was minimal. To help improve upon participation, the THPO conducted an online survey in the fall of 2016 to receive feedback from community members on ways to provide additional opportunities to learn Kanien’keha. As a result, programmatic changes were made to make learning Kanien’keha more accessible and enjoyable.

The result has been impressive, as each class has been at full capacity following the improvements. Classes are now offered for beginners, intermediate and advanced speakers during lunchtime and evening hours, as well as a in the morning and afternoon for individuals able to attend. They focus on everyday conversations and instructed by Edith, Trudy, Grace Mitchell, Kahsennekohe, Kaienkwinehtha and Dorothy Lazore, who also oversees efforts to produce certified-language instructors.

For their presentations, students provided personalized introductions; which included their name, clan, residency, parent’s and children’s names, as well as additional information that student’s felt comfortable sharing. There were many thoughtful and well-articulated responses, with studying Kanien’keha in advance of their presentations being the most popular.

It was the second presentation provided by Tribe’s language program, with a class of 12 students taught by Edith McDonald providing their presentations on April 18th. The six students that gave language presentations on June 26th included Korie Kawennaien Herne, Valerie Kawenniiosta Smoke-Ramirez, Aonwentsiio Sunday, Chrissy Onientatahse Jacobs, and Joanne Ashe.

“The Tribe continues its commitment to strengthening and promoting the usage of Kanien’keha,” shared Tribal Chief Eric Thompson, who was joined by Sub-Chief Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs and Assistant Executive Directors Starr Thomas and Gloria Herne at the June 26th class presentation. He noted, “I congratulate each of the students on their dedication to learning the language and for helping efforts to grow the number of fluent speakers in the community.”

On behalf of the Tribe, Ioianareskó:wa (very good job) to all the students, instructors, supporters and others for helping to keep our proud language strong and alive.

For information on upcoming language classes, please visit the Tribal Historic Preservation Office webpage at www.srmt-nsn.gov, or visit their office located at the Ionkwakiohkwaróron Tribal Administration Building at 71 Margaret Terrance Memorial Way.

PHOTO CAPTION: Students of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Mohawk Language Class taught by Trudy Lauzon provided presentations that exhibited their language fluency on Ohiarí:ha/June 26th. Pictured are (front row, from left) Joanne Ashe, Language Instructor Trudy Lauzon, Korie Kawennaien Herne, Chrissy Jacobs, Aonwentsiio Sunday; (back row, from left) Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Darren Bonaparte, Tribal Chief Eric Thompson, Assistant Executive Director Gloria Herne, Valerie Kawenniiosta Smoke-Ramirez, Tribal Sub-Chief Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs, and Assistant Executive Director Starr Thomas.


The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk People