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Browning school includes Blackfeet language in curriculum

blackfeet students.jpg
Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 10, 2024

One school in Browning stands out among the rest for its unwavering commitment to promoting cultural engagement and language studies.

The Cuts Wood Academy is a Blackfeet language immersion school that was founded in 1987.

The school offers full day programming for children ages 5-12 with the mission to use Blackfeet language as a tool to increase the number of native speakers, increase the cultural knowledge base, and influence positive community-based change.

Alan Luken teaches first and second grade, and says teaching the language is important for preservation.

“I think the language is important to be taught because it was given to us by the creator as a gift, so we need to keep that gift going. We can’t just throw that gift away,” he explained.

Students are taught how to introduce themselves in Blackfeet, names of animals, and even weather. With the addition of sign language within the curriculum as well, the effort is met with enthusiasm from both students and teachers alike.

“I like being able to speak it,” said Krue Kemmer, a seventh-grader at the school. “You don’t want to lose the language; you don’t want it to disappear forever.”

Eighth-grader Joselyn Laplant added, “I like to be able to go out and teach what I learn and continue sharing the language.”

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The decision to incorporate Blackfeet language instruction within the required general learning underscores the school’s commitment to cultural preservation and innovation.

Mr. Lukin added, “You would be surprised how quickly they pick it up. They just absorb, just like a sponge. It makes me real proud to see them use the language, when they say the words at home to their parents. You know, they showed me they learned, and they retained it.”

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