Saving Culture Through Language: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study of Ojibwe Language Immersion Educator Experience


  • Brian Donald McInnes University of Minnesota Duluth



First Nations education, hermeneutics, indigenous language, language immersion, language revitalization, phenomenology


With the near extinction of many tribal languages at the present, language immersion education offers considerable promise for the restoration of Ojibwe culture and identity. Through a series of structured interviews and longitudinal text-based dialogue with the researcher, eight educators from three school-based programs described the lived practice of working with culture in language immersion education. The study principally revealed how the lived experience of Ojibwe language immersion educators is important, challenging, and rewarding. The dynamic synergy of culture, language, and content that happens in Ojibwe language immersion requires competent and creative educators who are knowledgeable about language, cultural traditions, and teaching practice. The study concludes by noting how the lived experience of immersion school practitioners as cultural workers is marked not only by excellence in practice and professionalism, but by dedication, responsibility, and hope for the future of the culture, language and tribal nation itself.

Author Biography

Brian Donald McInnes, University of Minnesota Duluth

Dr. Brian McInnes is the founder of the Enweyang Ojibwe Language Immersion Nest - and an assistant professor in the Department of Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth. An enrolled member of the Wasauksing First Nation, Brian has a deep interest in the preservation of Indigenous cultures and languages and is an accomplished speaker, presenter, and writer in both Ojibwe and English mediums. Brian's teaching and research interests currently include teacher education and licensure, youth leadership skill development, and early childhood language acquisition and literacy.


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