By Tawnya Plain Eagle
For an entire week, a group of youth will be fully immersed into their language in a “Making Blackfoot cool again” camp.
The intent for the immersion camp is for the participants to be become fully immersed in the language for the duration of the week.
According to Pauline Yellowhorn, Blackfoot language and Culture at PBOE, the number of children who hear the Blackfoot language spoken frequently is decreasing.
“My goal is for the participants to gain an appreciation for the language because it is not spoken in the community anymore,” she said.
From the moment they arrive at the camp, to the time they go home they are only spoken in Blackfoot.
The morning starts with stories, advice, and teaching lessons heard by fluent speakers and knowledge keepers, then the afternoon is set aside for activities.
Another important aspect of the camp is to teach the youth the Piikani way of life, so that includes field trips to different traditional sights around southern Alberta.
“At the same time, we want to teach our children our Piikani culture, our identify, where we come from and why we are here,” She said.
This last camp they got to visit Waterton Lakes national park to learn how the beaver bundle was given from the star people and where it originated from – which was in Waterton Lakes.
“Those are the kind of stories we provide during our field trips,”
She said that It is important for everyone to learn about the Piikani Identify and why they are Niitsitapii (Blackfoot).
“There are not being taught the traditional values and protocols in school,” she said.
She wants to emphasis these practices, and hope that youth will gain an interest in taking back their culture and language.
Yellowhorn admits that this is also a special time for the elders, she said they rarely get to express themselves in Blackfoot.
“They really enjoy that, just sitting there and conversing with each other in Blackfoot,” she said.
This was Yellowhorn’s fourth time hosting the camp for Piikani youth, with two more camps this summer.
For more information contact Pauline Yellowhorn at 403 965-3019.