The Nakoda language will be offered to high school students starting this fall.
The curriculum was developed by the Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation linguistic experts and knowledge keepers, and was previously offered as a locally developed course.
The First Nation requested the course be offered provincially.
“The curriculum is literally a dream come true,” Cegakin Nation’s Nakoda Oyade Education Centre high school teacher Chad O’Watch said. “The Nakoda language is in such a dangerous state. We’re on the verge of not having a Nakoda language anymore. We believe as First Nations people that the language is inside of us, that it’s sleeping. Teaching the language will help awaken that language in all of us.”
Nakoda is the traditional language of the Nakoda people, who are represented in Saskatchewan within Treaty 2, Treaty 4 and Treaty 6, including the First Nations of Carry the Kettle, Ocean Man, Pheasant Rump, White Bear, Mosquito, Grizzly Bear’s Head and Lean Man.
“Residential schools took away a lot, not only our language but our teachings from our elders,” Cegakin Nation elder Clyde O’Watch said. “When you take any language and try to interpret it into English, we lose a whole lot of meaning. So when we pray – the Creator, we say say Adé Waką́tąga – but when we translate, we lose a whole lot of meaning to that. Our language is so important to us.”
The Nakoda curriculum is in addition to other Indigenous language courses already available provincially in Saskatchewan, specifically Cree (nēhiyawēwin), Nakawe, Dene and Michif.
(Nakoda Oyade Education Centre logo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan and www.saskatchewan.ca)