"We would like to take this way of life into the future, into good times, into celebrations where we can be speaking the stories of our people."

Dr. Lanny Real Bird Professor at Little Bighorn College

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Crow Nation and Little Bighorn College Language Classes

Crow Agency, Montana

imgLocated along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Crow Agency, the capital of the Crow Indian Reservation in south central Montana, Little Bighorn College is “committed to the preservation, perpetuation and protection of Crow culture and language.” The Tribe estimates that nearly eighty-five percent of their 11,000 citizens speak Crow as their first language, and the College teaches both the oral traditions and the Apsáalooke ammaalaátuua (Crow writing system).

Despite a strong base of first language Apsáalooke speakers, tribal leaders are concerned for the younger generations who are speaking an abbreviated, “slang” style of the language that is more like English language in its style and delivery. At a 2010 Indian Education Listening Session hosted by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., Scott Russell, Secretary of the Crow Tribal Council, introduced himself in Apsáalooke and said that an immersion school is the tribe’s first priority. Raised with Apsáalooke as his first language, Russell is ensuring that his own children also speak their Native language, and urged more families across Indian Country to instill the ancestral language in their young people.

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Did You Know ...

The Crow call themselves Apsáalooke, which means "children of the large-beaked bird," later misinterpreted as "crow," by outsiders.

The Apsáalooke language is related to other Siouan languages, most closely to Mandan and Hidatsa.

The Tribe maintains a strong clan system among its citizens, and they are named Ashshitchíte/the Big Lodge; Ashhilaalíoo/ Newly Made Lodge; Uuwatashe/ Greasy Mouth; Ashíiooshe/ Sore Lip Clan; Xúhkaalaxche/ Ties the Bundle Clan; Biliikóoshe/ Whistling Waters Clan; Ashkápkawiia/ Bad War Deeds Clan; and the Aashkamne/ Piegan clan which is also called Aashbatshua or Treacherous clan.

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