H’aakume Dzeeni Language Program
As H’akum’ee people we have faced and gone through many cultural and non-cultural changes and hardships. In spite of these changes and difficulties, our history, our traditions, our identity and our cultural religion lives on. Our ways have been passed down to us for thousands of years through oral communication.
However, our language is in danger of being lost. Much of the language is no longer spoken in the homes, especially among the younger generation. English is now the common language used in the home.
What We Do
Our current project is to complete the H’aakume Keres Dictionary. This is an on-going project which began in 2017. We currently have about 5,000 words and phrases being edited by fluent speakers. These words and phrases are used conversationally in the home at Acoma, McCartys and Acomita. Culturally sensitive words are not in the dictionary.
Our language has never been written. Changes are sometimes hard to accept, but the time has come to write the language in order for it to survive. We can no longer support the language through oral communication. There are several tribal members who are beginning un-degreed linguists and are able to write the language. Together they and the fluent speakers work to transcribe English words into H’aaku Dzeeni.
- To have a completed hard copy dictionary that is a user friendly tool used by learners, speakers and teachers.
- To have an on-line dictionary available to tribal members
- Build school and home curricula to successfully teach the language.
- Promote educational excellence by providing quality, friendly language programs and services that enhance lifelong skills while maintaining the Acoma culture and language
- Continue to add more words and phrases to the existing dictionary.
- Continue to update and edit the existing website dictionary
- Update the website dictionary so that only tribal members can access the site.
Who We Serve
The Keres Language program also includes fundraising activities to fund the Acoma Department of Education Foundation. This non-profit foundation was put in place to
make available supplies and materials needed to assist teachers and students in school programs including the Keres language programs.
We are very excited to involve our community in these fundraising efforts. With these funds, our organization will be able to teach our youth the importance of cultural education which will add to their academic endeavors. We feel strongly that this will make a difference in our community and in our youth.
Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren need our help to keep our language alive. As speakers, the continuation and survival of our language rests on us. Without current speakers, the language will not survive. We must preserve our language to stay connected to our culture and to our ancestors who gave us this treasure. Language is one of the most important traditions we have. It embodies our prayers, our songs and our stories.
There are many ways for us to maintain and retain our H’akuume Dzeeni:
- Speak it at home
- Attend language classes
- Promote language proficiency and literacy in the schools
- Develop user friendly programs to have fun with the language at home
- Launch projects and activities using Keres
- Use the Keres Dictionary
We are proud that Acoma is known as being the oldest continuously inhabited village in North America and it is our desire to maintain that image through cultural activities which includes our language.