MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Twelve students are signed up for the camp, which helps students learn more about the Native American culture.
The camp kicked off last week and is underway again beginning today through Thursday. Due to COVID-19, the instructors were forced to adapt to a virtual format.
“We’ve been hosting a virtual language learning camp now, we had three days last week, and three days this week where they come and we split them into two different rooms where they learn either Ojibwe or Dakota language for an hour each day. Then we spend some other time answering questions they may have about what they are thinking about in terms of college in the future as well. We took a smaller piece of what our camp usually is, and adapted it to this virtual world,” American Indian Affairs Director Megan Heutmaker said.
Minnesota State University, Mankato is only one of two institutions in Minnesota that offer both Ojibwe and Dakota language. This camp is not restricted to just those of Native American descent, but it’s open to any student who wants to learn the language and be emerged in the culture.
“So being able to not only offer AIS classes on campus, but also the language classes, which, when you learn language, you can’t help but also learn culture and history and humor and all of these elements that we take for granted if you’re not from a community whose not well represented in an academic institution,” Associate Professor Chelsea Mead said.
Instructors say being virtual has actually helped them expand their reach this year, with students not just from the Midwest, but from New Mexico, Arizona and Canada.