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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Students Work to Save Salish Language
by Jill Valley (KPAX News)
PABLO - English is the first language for most of Montana's American Indians, and that has some worried that their native tongue could be lost forever.

We recently met some young college students who are holding tight to their roots and hoping their ancient language will grow again.

The sounds and words that the Salish Indians used for hundreds of years once echoed through the Mission Valley.

Now, a dozen students in a language class at Salish Kootenai College are wrapping their tongues around an ancient language that's struggling to be heard.

"Our language is dying. A lot of people ... don't care or are unaware of it," Salish student Miranda Nyomo told us. "We have 50 fluent speakers in a nation of 5,000."

Nyomo and her brother Anthony were recently in class playing word games used to teach the language and learn the alphabet. They're also offering hope to the elders who also see their language dying.

"It's sad to me because some of us, Indian people, we believe that without our language, we wouldn't be Indian ... I wouldn't call myself a real Indian," Alec Quequesah explained.

The letters and sounds of the Salish language are fascinating and beautiful. But, most only experience native language on the bilingual roadsides along US Highway 93. Traveling north, you'll see Salish, south it's Kooenita, a language also taught at SKC.

It's a nod to a culture that wants to maintain its ancient identity. "Assimlation. We want to keep our identiy and what makes us different," Mali' Matt told us.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
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