Learn a Native language!

A great back-to-school project for kids and teens (and it’s not all online!)

A Potawatomi Language lesson. Click to hear the first lesson.

Please help us honor the true native languages of this land by learning and sharing nature words of local Native American Chicagoans. Here’s how!

  1. Watch this short video about why language preservation is important: https://theways.org/story/living-language
  2. Visit the St. John’s garden (next to 3857 N Kostner Ave). Write down the words for the things you see that you want to learn the names of i.e. dirt, grass, rabbit, tree, robin, flower, worm etc.
  3. Choose a language you wish to learn. We recommend the starred * languages because you can look up the word and hear how it is pronounced. You may want to choose a language that is your own heritage or a neighbor’s. For instance, the Ho-Chunk nation has an office near St. John’s on Milwaukee Avenue. Here is a list of the 15 largest groups of Native American people living in the Chicagoland area:
LanguageLinkColor of ribbon
* Potawatomi  https://potawatomidictionary.com/Dictionarywhite
Odawa/Ottawahttps://dictionary.nishnaabemwin.atlas-ling.ca/#/help  dark yellow
Ho Chunkhttps://glosbe.com/en/win  light green
Menominee  http://www.menomineelanguage.com/dictionaries-word-listspink
Oneida  https://www.uwgb.edu/dictionary/EnglishToOneida.aspxlight brown
Blackfoot  https://dictionary.blackfoot.atlas-ling.ca/#/helpmedium blue
* Ojibwe  https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/browse/englishlight yellow
Cree  https://dictionary.plainscree.atlas-ling.ca/#/helpgrey
Lakota  https://lakhota.org/teach-lakota/classroom-materials/dictionary/red
Dakota  https://glosbe.com/en/daklight blue
Navajo  https://glosbe.com/en/nvtan
Choctaw  https://glosbe.com/en/cholight purple
Cherokee  https://www.manataka.org/page122.htmlorange
Choose your own!http://www.native-languages.org/
Slide to see ribbon color assignments
  1. Write the Native word you learned in permanent marker on the colored ribbon indicated. If the word is something that moves (like a rabbit), tie the ribbon to a picture of it (which you draw or photograph or print). If you are a St. John’s member there is roll of ribbon in your Sunday School in a bag. If you need ribbon please email parishoffice@stjohnschicago.com and we will deliver some to you!
  2. Go back to the garden and tie the ribbon to the thing (tree, flower, wood etc) and bring some sticks to tie on the ribbons and put in the ground (rabbit, butterfly, wind).
  3. Practice saying the words!