Native Language Documentary Emmy Tours Participating Schools

Native Language Documentary Emmy Tours Participating Schools


Last September, First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language, a documentary funded through Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment, was awarded a MidWest Regional Emmy for Artistic Excellence in the Documentary-Cultural category.

The golden statuette recently visited one of the many organizations featured in the one-hour film, the Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion School on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bena, Minnesota.

“Niigaane kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms participated in the film during late spring of 2010,” said Leslie Harper, the school’s director. “At Niigaane, all academic and social content is taught through the medium of Ojibwe language. In this way, the Leech Lake communities hope to reclaim the Ojibwe language as a vital, necessary language for the coming generations. In order to revitalize and maintain a language, it must be spoken and used by all generations in a community.”

The Emmy is currently on a “Miigwech Tour” to all of the sites that participated in the film. First stop was the Niigaane school, where Harper said the Niigaane students took care of the award and “talked about the importance of our language in today’s world.” The award was at Niigaane until January 6.

On that day, Niigaane hosted a feast and farewell to the Emmy before it continued its tour. The award will travel to Bemidji State University, in Bemidji, Minnesota; the Red Lake Nation, in Red Lake, Minnesota; the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School, in Hayward, Wisconsin; Birchbark Books in Minneapolis; and to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of American Studies.

“Many, many people contributed to the film, and this is a great reminder of the strength and importance of Ojibwe language and culture in our world today,” Harper said.

The film premiered in November 2010 on Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), and can also be seen on Minnesota Public Television stations. To watch the documentary online, visit

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