Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
The Akwesasne Cultural Restoration (ACR) Program’s Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton (We will make it new again) Project announced it has been awarded $897,999 over the next three years to promote and strengthen Kanien’keha (Mohawk language). Overseen by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environment Division, Akwesasne Cultural Restoration will utilize the funding to support activities designed to help increase language fluency in the Akwesasne community.
The grant award is provided by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families under the Native Language Preservation and Maintenance and the Esther Martinez Immersion Programs. The programs named Akwesasne Cultural Restoration’s Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton (We will make it new again) Project one of 18 grant recipients to receive funding for community-driven projects designed to strengthen Native languages.
“The Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program is proud that we will be able to continue working towards our long-term community goal of increasing the number of fluent language speakers,” said Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program Coordinator Amberdawn Lafrance. Lafrance added, “The funding will help overcome challenges that have hindered the preservation and maintenance of Kanien’keha in Akwesasne.”
The Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton Project received funding to complete three objectives over the next three years that will change the way language learners utilize learning materials, assess language fluency and use the language outside of the classroom. The project’s goal is help encourage the passing of language and culture from generation to generation, strengthening ones connection with the natural world, and increase the availability of Kanien’keha and culture-based educational materials.
The project’s first objective is to develop curriculum and other learning materials for making them available throughout the community, which includes contributing toward an Akwesasne-based Kanien’keha dictionary. Additional objectives include staff training on the process of oral proficiency interviews and providing 34 monthly workshops in partnership with community organizations and tribal programs. The cultural workshops will be free and open to all community members and designed to encourage speaking Kanien’keha.
“I am proud that the Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton Project will help bring Akwesasne youth and elders together to promote the sharing of traditional activities and Kanien’keha,” shared Tribal Chief Eric Thompson, who serves as tribal representative on the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Commission. Chief Thompson noted, “I am equally pleased that the grant will also be utilized for a language specialist to work with the Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton Project in offering an adult language program.”
In December 2017, Akwesasne Cultural Restoration’s Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton Project graduated 13 apprentices who participated in a four-year language program that focused on passing along cultural knowledge and Kanien’keha. The success of the program led the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program to offer a second two-year language immersion program to 13 more students that begins on September 9th.
For more information about the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program’s Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton (We will make it new again) Project, please visit the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s website at www.srmt-nsn.gov or call Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program Coordinator Amberdawn Lafrance at (518) 333-0222.