Twin Cities Public Television Awarded Upper Midwest Emmy for Native Language Documentary “First Speakers”

On Sunday, September 25th, 2011, Twin Cities Public Television was awarded and Upper Midwest Emmy – having received 26 nominations in 20 categories – for Eugene Stillday’s (Ojibwe) Native language documentary “First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language, narrated by writer, Louise Erdric (Ojibwe). The project was funded through Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment and follows Anton Treuer and collaborating elders, as well as fluent speakers Eugene Stillday, Anna Gibbs, Rose Tainter, Susan Johnson, and Larry Stillday, in their struggle to revitalize Ojibwe. Specifically, it takes a look inside the full immersion schools: Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion School on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bena, MN and Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation near Hayward, WI.

Around WWII, most Ojibwe spoke their language, but since then various conditions have contributed to its decline, and today there are only around 700 fluent speakers left in the US, the majority in Red Lake, and most of the rest in Ponemah. There are only a few hundred more speakers in neighboring states like Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota.

You can watch “First Speakers” online at until DVDs become available.

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