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Across North America, dedicated language warriors are powering an upswell, a resurgence, a revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures. Through deliberate suppression and cultural destruction, the five hundred languages spoken on the continent before contact have dwindled to about 150. Their ongoing survival depends on immediate, energetic interventions.
Anton Treuer has been at the forefront of the battle to revitalize Ojibwe for many years. In this impassioned argument, he discusses the interrelationship between language and culture, the problems of language loss, strategies and tactics for resisting, and the inspiring stories of successful language warriors. He recounts his own sometimes hilarious struggle to learn Ojibwe as an adult, and he depicts the astonishing success of the language program at Lac Courte Oreilles, where a hundred children now speak Ojibwe as their first language.
This is a manifesto, a rumination, and a rallying cry for the preservation of priceless languages and cultures.