The ANA Messenger: Native Languages Edition 2014
Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico
Mescalero Apache Language Immersion School
Located in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache Reservation is home to approximately 4,000 members. The Mescalero Apache Language Immersion School goal was to increase the numbers of fluent young speakers who are knowledgeable about and make use of Apache culture.
Partnering linguist from New Mexico State University, and staff developed an age-appropriate immersion curriculum including lesson plans, games, and other activities leading to learning. The Tribe provided space in the school for an Apache-only environment, and various Tribal departments donated supplies, equipment, and furniture.
In total, 28 students increased their knowledge of the language, 10 of whom became conversationally fluent as measured by project staff. Parents reported that students are excited to use the language at home. The language lessons have also instilled Apache values in the youth.
The immersion program’s benefits extend to the Mescalero Apache community as a whole, as well. Community members’ have become motivated to learn the language and to participate in cultural events. “Who we are as a people is identified through the language.” – anonymous Apache community member.
Learning your language early in life matters; staff report that the Tribal school’s overall performance has improved; students who graduated from the immersion program are now scoring higher on tests.
The Tribe held hour-long, weekly language classes for adults and hosted a language summit which attracted over 100 people – get involved and have fun!