Seen & Heard
Maracle, a former journalist, returned to his native Mohawk community in Ontario about 30 years ago. There, he founded an adult language school and began working with community elders to teach Kanyen’keha, the Mohawk language—which he didn't even know how to speak himself.
“I never studied linguistics, don’t have any teacher training, my parents weren’t speakers,” he told the New York Times. Now, notes the Times, Maracle is regularly a featured speaker at linguistics conferences. Figuring out how to learn and teach Kanyen’keha required significant innovation, according to linguistics experts.
“He’s figured out this improbable, but linguistically extremely smart, method of delivering this radically different language to adults,” one expert told the Times. Indigenous languages were nearly stamped out in Canada throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when Native American children were forced into residential schools and only allowed to speak English.