North Dakota tribes are revitalizing their languages to restore their cultures

Rebuilding the culture by preserving the language – that’s how one language coordinator described efforts to keep the native languages of North Dakota alive.

The national Language Conservancy has teamed up with the MHA Language Project to revitalize the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara languages, because of a steady decline in fluency.

With each passing year, the native language of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara clans fade a little bit more.

Last year, a devastating announcement was made to the people of the Fort Berthold Reservation.

Bernadine Young Bird, language coordinator, said “About a year ago in April, our tribe did declare a state of emergency.”

Mary Gachupin has spoken Hidatsa her entire life, but says she very clearly sees the decline in fluent speakers.

For the next two weeks, classes are being held in New Town to turn things around.

Our purpose is to revitalize what we do know, and rebuild what we have lost,” continued Young Bird.

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