BOZEMAN - Montana State’s Department of Native American Studies recently received a $2.75 million grant from the Margaret Cargill Foundation.
“Support several initiatives that we have for student retention,” says Dr. Walter Flemming, chair of the department.
The purpose of the grant is to provide students with a multi-generational support system.
“To initiate by the time the grant is fully funded, five heritage language courses,” says Fleming.
Fleming hopes that by providing these courses he hopes to reignite and connect students' connection with their heritage during their time at MSU.
“Native languages are in danger and if students come to Bozeman from their home community, sometimes they are not connected with that knowledge,” says Fleming.
Maleeya Knowshisgun says being able to expand her knowledge to connect with elders and preserve languages rooted deep in Montana.
“To sit down with the elder and have that conversation without English words in there I just think that’d be amazing,” says MSU Student, Knowshisgun.
Not only speaking with her Elders but being able to carry that on in her own family.
Maleeya added: “To be able to see our kids be able to speak it and carry that on for years and years to come”
Hoping to rebuild what was once taken away.
“Having that taken away and trying to build that back up is definitely-its hard but it's doable,” says Knowshisgun.
“A lot of cultural retention depends on knowledge,” says Fleming
Right now the grant is still In its early stages. One of their goals is to hire an elder in residence hoping to pass down knowledge from generation to generation by the fall semester.