US Pueblo Of Pojoaque Youth Know Native Language Better Than Past Generations - Councilman

ALBUQUERQUE (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd October, 2019) The young people of US Pueblo of Pojoaque Nation are picking up more of the native language than previous generations while the tribe implements programs aimed at preserving their traditions and culture, Councilman Jeff Montoya told Sputnik.

"What's been happening is that our younger kids start to pick up the language... more than some of the generations like my generation who really knew a little bit of language," Montoya said. "We learned 20 to 30 percent of language [and] they are learning like 30 to 40 percent more of the language. And so we are pushing programs to where they just keep capitalizing [on] learning the language and culture."

Montoya pointed out that they start out young with getting the kids involved with traditional activities including language especially in light of the loss of fluent speakers.

"Some of our native fluent speakers are dying off and so we are not having that continuation," he noted.

Montoya said they encourage youth to pursue college degrees and return to see if they can be integrated back into the tribe.

There is a tribal scholarship program, he added, that allows members to attend grade school, high school, and college and to pursue doctoral degrees. About 80 percent of tribal members in kindergarten through 12th grade are actually in private schools, he noted.

"We are taking some steps to make sure that the tribal members that are growing up do get a good education," the councilman said.

The tribe has also been able to implement programs with teachers who speak Tewa, the Pueblo's native language, he said.

The Pueblo of Pojoaque tribe is located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico with a population of about 535 and 13,000 acres of tribal land, according to the councilman.

Montoya spoke on the sidelines of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 76th Annual Convention and Marketplace in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Established in 1944, the NCAI is the oldest and largest non-profit organization representing US native tribes and the interests of tribal governments and communities.