Signs will be in both native and immigrant’s languages in northern Minnesota

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Apropos recent discussion on Native American issues in Minnesota, we have this from MinnPost:

Tourists visiting Bemidji this summer may pick up a few words of a “foreign” language.

That’s because the first city on the Mississippi River way north in Minnesota may be the only town off a reservation trying to incorporate the area’s indigenous Ojibwe language into daily life.

All over town Ojibwe language signs are posted right alongside English language labels, and for a just cause. The signage is part of a broader effort to preserve the language spoken by an estimated 60,000 persons across areas of the northern United States and into Canada as well as to bridge cultural divides between whites and American Indians.

Words such as “boozhoo,’’ an Ojibwe word for “welcome” and many other Native American terms crop up around town, in an appliance store, the local hospital, the convention center, a local coffee shop, and this spring in the public schools. …

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9 thoughts on “Signs will be in both native and immigrant’s languages in northern Minnesota

  1. Talequah, Oklahoma has had street signs and a few others in Cherokee for as long as I can remember.

  2. There’s a theory that says that “boozhoo” is derived from the French “bonjour.” My father’s was from Mahnomen — which is just south of Bejou….

  3. The Ojibwe Language as it existed in Minnesota in the 19th century had been operating along side French for a couple of generations at least, so that is not a surprise. Certain bands would (I’m guessing here) be more likely to have French borrowings than others … I wonder of “Boozhoo” is from those specific bands or if that is known.

    I’ll look it up here: but I doubt it will be there…. (kind of a specific question).

    I’ve not geen to Mahnomen, but I’ve been kinda all around it. Farm country. We white people like to stay in the woods when we go up north, pretending it is all wild and stuff.

  4. The only reason I can think of to go to Mahnomen would be if you wanted to lose money to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and were tired of doing it at the casinos in Hinckley and Cloquet.

    One must note that the Ojibwe, too, are immigrants, having driven the Sioux out of the Minnesota woodlands and out onto the plains.

  5. Cue the wingnuts with “English is the only language of REAL Americans…” in 3…2…1…

  6. An Ojibwe born on the Fort William First Nation reserve in Thunder Bay, Ontario, who moved to Bemidji is a Native American, while someone of Norwegian descent born in Bemidji into a family that has lived there for a hundred years is an immigrant.

    But if the Kensington Runestone is genuine and not a hoax, then the Norwegians beat the Ojibwe to Minnesota, and maybe Bemidji should put up a sign next to Babe the Big Blue Ox saying “Velkommen.” Or maybe they don’t need to, since they’ve already got Skogfjorden.

    Is this a great country, or wha’?

  7. I’m actually very curious to see whether there’s any wingnut acknowledgement of this. On one hand, as Trebuchet says, Murriken is the only language the sky fairy likes, but on the other, this is the uncomfortable indisputable counterexample of seniority.

    Will ignorance and outrage, or hypocrisy and face saving win out? My money’s on hypocrisy and face saving, and that the most senior Murrikens don’t actually matter due to low numbers. To most wingnuts, this is probably as important an issue as if the signs also had Klingon or Galstandard. It’s only demographically and religiously scary groups who can’t have signs they can read. Then they’d have even more special privileges…

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