The Cuts Wood School in Browning sits quietly during the summer months, but its impact during the school year is loud, preserving thousands of year’s worth of history and culture through the native language.
Something that started to get lost over the years.
“They found that the youngest speakers were in their 60’s and that our language was in an endangered state,” Teacher Jesse Derosier said. “So the idea was to teach children the language.”
Derosier teaches at the school, helping kids learn the knowledge he too learned years ago. In addition to that, he also works alongside the woman who taught him so much, Diana Burd.
“If you don’t have your language, you don’t have your culture,” Burd said.
She has taught at the school off and on since the late 80’s, watching the language start to grow back into the community.
“We have come a long way with the language. It has to be a continuous thing,” Burd added.
Students at the school spend time learning the language through games and different activities. Over time the knowledge grew, and adults started picking up words from their kids and even visiting the school.
“”It wasn’t until recently we weren’t allowed to say these things, to claim those things, to understand those things,” Derosier added about the language. “So to reclaim that is a real sense of identity.”
“It tells you who you are as a person and that identity gives you confidence,” Teacher Charles Kennedy said. “That’s what we really strive with our students is building confidence in them and knowing who they are.”
The school is becoming more popular, in fact Kennedy says they get more and more applications every school year.