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Haho! Boozhoo! Posoh! That’s “hello” in Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, and Menominee, respectively. You may start seeing those words of welcome more often around campus as part of a growing effort to revitalize Indigenous languages — the traditional languages of the Native people who have lived within a region for generations. So, to answer your question, the American Indian Studies Program at the UW offers four languages that are Indigenous to Wisconsin: Ho-Chunk (Hocąk), Menominee (Omāēqnomenēweqnaesen), Ojibwe (Anishinaabemowin), and Dakota (Dakhótiyapi). Linguists at the UW have also supported tribal leaders’ efforts to save their endangered languages by developing dictionaries with Native speakers and studying how children and adults can learn more effectively. Other initiatives focus on Indigenous languages outside of Wisconsin, since the loss of traditional languages is pervasive. Project ENABLE aims to translate scientific words into the Navajo language so that Navajo students can learn and discuss biology in their native tongue. These course offerings and research projects help support the UW’s mission to acknowledge and explore its shared history with Indigenous peoples. More importantly, Indigenous language courses empower students and tribal members to retain a vital part of their culture and identity.

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