About this story: With fewer than twenty known speakers remaining in early 2020, the Shawnee Tribe declared an official state of emergency for the Shawnee language and committed the entire decade 2020-2030 to the language’s survival. Just weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything from daily routines to our communities and ceremonies.
The Tribe’s language department reluctantly implemented Zoom classes for the first time in what was meant to be a temporary solution for citizens craving cultural community in the era of social distancing. But the Tribe ended up reaching Shawnee people across the continent—citizens who had been disconnected from the culture and were hungry to reconnect with their ancestral language.
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