The Gleaner
Arts & LifeSharing Our Stories

Sharing Our Stories – February 21, 2024

Story told by: Allen Simon
Edited by: Jonathan Turenne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Translated by: Sahawisó:ko’ Arquette

Stay and listen

For me, regardless of where I am, I will always talk in my Native language. There are people who enjoy listening to me speak in Mohawk and they stand there, genuinely interested. Some even ask if they can stay and continue listening.

They say, “We like the way you’re talking.”

I tell them, “You’re welcome to stay; there’s nothing wrong with that.”

 

Educator teaches children Kanienkéha at Mohawk School in Akwesasne Taken in October 1985 PHOTO George Mully

 

I believe I might be one of the few people in our community who does this. To me, it’s only natural to help others learn our language. If someone approaches me seeking assistance, whether they’re an elder or not, I’m more than willing to help.

 

Construction contract written in Kanienkéha in October 1905 PHOTO Courtesy of Alex M McComber

 

They might ask me how to pronounce a word or what it means and I gladly assist them. After all, why should I keep this gift my Creator gave me all to myself?

My language is meant not just for me but also to help others. That’s the principle I live by and it aligns with my beliefs. To me, every person has a beating heart and that’s what truly matters.

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