Language classes bring students back to their heritage

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A group of students at Elton High School are taking a new language class this year and it isn't your typical foreign language elective.

This year the high school is offering Coushatta language classes.

Instructors from the Coushatta Tribe are teaching seven Coushatta students the language every Monday and Friday.

"The language for our people is extremely vital," says Nina Fuselier. "It is part of who we are."

Fuselier helped kick off this first ever Coushatta language program in Jeff Davis Parish schools.

"Our language was dying out, I'm hoping that it fixes the generational gap that we face between the youth and the elders," says Fuselier.

Nina then compiled a dictionary of Coushatta word patterns for the students.

"We found patterns in our language that we didn't realize were there," says Fuselier. "We were able to take those and simplify them a little bit."

Students say they enjoy learning more about their culture through the language.

"We come in here and she teaches us the Indian words, they ask us questions and we have to tell them in Coushatta what they ask us," says Reagan Broussard, a Coushatta language student.

Students say they cannot wait to pass their Coushatta language skills on to everyone else.

"It's about to be lost and we're trying to make it come back," says Broussard. "This will allow us  to teach it to my kids and my grand kids and let them teach their kids."

Nina feels this will make the Coushatta tribe even stronger.

"With better communication especially through the language, we can accomplish so much more," says Fuselier.

The students have only been speaking the language for about a month now.

But the instructors say they're coming along quickly.

The instructors say that if the class goes well, they hope to branch out to other schools in the area.

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