Native American community sees Māori as beacon in language revitalisation

By Aroha Treacher

Native American leader, Pearl Means, says her people see Māori as a beacon in language revitalisation. In an effort to save their own dying language they are modelling their future total immersions schools from Māori.

The native tongue of Pearl Means and her Native American people is on the verge of extinction because of colonisation.

Means says, "We've had everything that's sacred and holy removed, we've all but lost our languages and we look to the Māori and the becaon of light with regard to language revitalisation."

She is the wife of the late Russell Means, famed Oglala Lakota activist who fought for the rights of Native Americans and indigenous peoples. He featured in the movie Last of the Mohicans and worked tirelessly to establish total immersion schools for decades.

Although there are native language programmes being taught in America, she says they are not successful. But it is a hard road forward establishing the schools as they seek private funding to do so.

Means is one of the guest speakers at the Indigenous Wellness Conference held at Waimarama, a forum for leaders to discuss and debate how to achieve indigenous well-being.

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