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  • Laura Vuillemin

Have You Ever Heard About Indian French?


Yes, Indian French. And it has nothing to do with India.


Indian French is a dialect of French spoken by some Native American tribes in Louisiana, among which the Pointe-au-Chien tribe.


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Intermarriages between members of this tribe and Francophones gave birth to a language that mixes French and traditional Native American/Indian words.


Interestingly, the Pointe-au-Chien tribe may actually be home to the most linguistically continuous groups of Francophones in Louisiana.


How so?


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Until recent decades, the tribe remained isolated from the neighboring English-speaking communities, which contributed to their ability to retain their spoken language. This isolation was notably due to the fact that Pointe-au-Chien Indians were denied education. As revolting as it sounds, they were prohibited from attending high school until the late 1960s and early 1970s.


When they were finally allowed to go to school, which was only taught in English, they were punished if they spoke French there (that also happened to many other French-speaking children in Louisiana, as I explained in this past post you might have read).


Logically (and above all, sadly), this impacted on the spoken language. Various initiatives have thus been taken to preserve Indian French:


▶️ Organizing language summer camps and weekend classes for children

▶️ Advocating for the establishment of bilingual language programs in schools



How did I learn all of this?


Because I am currently working on a fascinating project about Francophonie in the United States, which notably involved translating a chapter by Georgie V. Ferguson from which most of the above information comes. Georgie V. Ferguson is a proud member of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe.


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📷 Picture taken from the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe’s website


[Big thank you to the client who trusted me with this project. They’ll know who they are.]

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