Six Nations Language Commission looking to create language policy

The Six Nations Language Commission is looking to create a language policy within the community as it unveiled its new strategic plan for language growth in the community last week.

The language commission said it is getting back into gear as they come out of the Covid pandemic, during which a lot of their ideas and plans were put on hold.

The language policy encompass the community’s values and plans to revitalize the six Haudenosaunee languages, similar to a language law currently in place at Kahnawake, said SNLC Chair Karen Sandy at Six Nations Elected Council’s general council meeting last week.

By 2020, the SNLC has taught 750 students since its creation and has three adult immersion for the Cayuga, Seneca, and Mohawk languages.

The commission hopes to have programs for all six languages in place with an overall mission of creating language speakers in the community who use one of the Haudenosaunee languages as one of their ordinary means of communication for everyday use.

Their priority is proficiency, said Sandy, and getting people to use the English language as an option, not a requirement.

Sandy said Haudenosaunee language usage is getting more common and visible in the community, on radio, on social media and in schools.

This year they plan to increase language resources to other languages, such as Tuscarora, Onondaga and Mohawk, said Sandy.

They’ve developed handy little language pocketbooks for people to carry in one of the languages, and they’re currently working on rolling out a pocketbook in the Seneca language.

The goal is to have pocketbooks for all six languages.

Sandy said the Covid pandemic had put a hold on their language strategy, but they’re picking up work on that after hiring a planing and development officer.

This year, the commission is looking to develop a language policy, a community strategic plan, lexicon development, public awareness, and  to research local proficiency rates.

“We had our own languages that weren’t English,” said Sandy, hoping to help people remember that.

The commission has pocketbooks available in some of the other languages, with translations containing phrases in everyday communication, and can be picked up at the SNLC offices at Oneida Business Park.

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