GREAT FALLS — The Chippewa Cree Tribal Business Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution to declare a "state of emergency" for the Chippewa and Cree languages .
The organization said in a press release that the resolution was presented to the Business Committee by a non-profit organization called “Mahchiwminahnahtik Chippewa and Cree Language Revitalization” (MCCLR) who stressed to the Business Committee the importance of the tribal languages for future generations.
MCCLR is a new organization made up of tribal members who are working to begin language revitalization and restoration efforts on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. The organization is operated by a seven-member board and plans to begin full operation early this fall.
They were the authors of the resolution which stated, in part, “The Chippewa Cree Business Committee has the ultimate authority to Declare a State of Emergency or Disaster within the exterior boundaries of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. The Chippewa and Cree Languages of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation are in decline and have reached dangerously low numbers of fluent speakers and require a State of Emergency to begin revitalization and restoration efforts Reservation-wide.”
Merle Tendoy, a Chippewa Cree MCCLR Board member, started off by addressing the Business Committee in the Cree Language and then translating himself in English: “Our ancestors brought us to the Bear Paw Mountains, our home, to practice and perpetuate our God given languages and ceremonies. We need to do this for our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children.”
He was followed by Dustin Whitford, MCCLR Board president, who read the resolution out loud for the record, and also noted, “I’m afraid for our children, they need to know their languages for their identities as Chippewa Cree people.”
The resolution allows for the Chippewa Cree Tribe to allocate funds to MCCLR for operating and revitalization functions. Additional language in the resolution included, “the Chippewa and Cree languages are considered to be living beings and need to be cared for, nurtured, and protected.
The Business Committee and the audience in attendance were very attentive and allowed time for two of the board members to express their concerns as well as three elders in attendance and some community members who also expressed their concerns with the potential loss of the languages.
If you would like more information about this topic, you are asked to call Dustin Whitford at 406-390-3898.