'Our hearts are heavy': COVID-19 deaths of tribal elders leave a void
Tragedy has come with a renewed urgency to preserve language and culture
April 13, 2021
Anton Treuer calls himself an Ojibwe language warrior. He's been working to preserve and share the language for two decades. He spends a lot of time learning from elders, and over the past year COVID-19 has claimed many.
"It's been hard. We've simply had a lot of deaths," said Treuer, whose work takes him to tribal communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Ontario.
"And throughout those communities, the COVID deaths have been profound," he said. "We identified 25 fluent [Ojibwe] speakers in Mille Lacs, and about half a dozen of them died this year, most from COVID."