Stein, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal, has won the
Freedom Forum/American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished
Writing on Diversity with his 2008 project on the fate of five Native
languages in Wisconsin.
project was called "Down
to a Whisper."
it, Stein wrote, "The five surviving Indian languages of Wisconsin
Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Ojibwe, Potawatomi and Oneida
are quietly suffering from the same pressures of assimilation pushing
languages around the world toward extinction."
educator Andrew Thudercloiud told Stein, "There's a story that
we have that we were given this language by God, and as such, this
language is considered to be sacred. And I was told in this story
that when our language is gone, the world will end.
see that our language is disappearing. Our beliefs are disappearing
... if we do not keep our language, we're going to exist as Ho-Chunks
in name only."
interactive project recommended several steps including:
Revival of a state program that helped pay for teaching Native
languages in tribal schools.
Expand work by University of Wisconsin System professors to help
tribes document and record the knowledge of their elders.
series appeared in June. In September, Wisonsin's state school superintendent
proposed that the state revive a long-standing but discontinued
state program for American Indian languages.
and the other winners will be recognized at the ASNE convention
in Chicago on April 27.