Good InfoCree Leader Surprises Tribe by Inviting US Polyglot YouTuber to Learn Language...

Cree Leader Surprises Tribe by Inviting US Polyglot YouTuber to Learn Language and Visit to Promote it (WATCH)

Ari in Cree lands, produced by Xiaomanyc

An American YouTuber with millions of subscribers recently visited the Cree Nation in Canada with a big surprise—he speaks their language.

Ari Smith, aka, Xiaoma, is an American polyglot who travels to countries and surprises locals by speaking their language to them on camera. With his immense following, and incredible aptitude for languages, a Cree cultural leader thought him a perfect ambassador for their people’s spoken word.

“We had this language program that we’re we just launched called repeataftermecree.com where we teach 52 weeks of Cree. And I was wondering, how do I promote this, how could I get it out there?” said Patrick Mitsuing, the president of Powwow Times.

Mitsuing discovered Smith’s capacity for speech (the New Yorker can speak 50 languages to varying degrees of fluency) and invited him to take the Cree course and follow it up with a visit to the nation.

Smith’s work on YouTube has a clear entertainment bent, but his superpower for learning new languages is something he’s also used for humanitarian purposes—learning indigenous languages and traveling to where they’re spoken in order to raise awareness that some of these timeless tongues, with all their hidden knowledge and poetry, are disappearing.

Cree is notoriously difficult even among indigenous North American languages, but in the 23-minute video of his trip to the Cree lands, Smith surprises multiple passersby with some Cree chit-chat he learned from the course, taught by Patrick’s brother Vernon, and the responses vary from surprise and mirth to emotionally overwhelming.

At the end of the visit, which included dog-sledding and other activities, Smith gives a speech to some “very skeptical” elders of the Cree race. Just like the strangers on the street, some of the elders thought it was cool and funny, while others were deeply moved.

“The elders at first were kind of like ‘who is this weirdo with the camera?’…” Ari recounted to CBC News. “And then when I started speaking Cree, they were kind of like, ‘oh OK, that’s pretty cool.’”

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At the meeting with the elders, the topic of discussion—over rabbit stew and moose meat—was how to bring Cree language and culture to young people, and Mitsuing said that social media in the way that Smith uses it has to be part of the program.

“The comments that I’ve seen from his videos, from his shorts and reels that he did from this content. I see a lot of the young Indigenous, not just young but even older crowds saying ‘man, if he could learn, I could learn, man if he’s doing it, I could do it,’” Mitsuing told CBC. 

OTHER INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE STORIES: 89-year-old had to ‘Speak Up’ to Save Believed-Extinct Language of Indigenous People Who Revered Silence

Technology is a way that indigenous languages can live on. Most people will choose to learn languages online today, and courses like repeataftermecree, or Inuktitut—taught through the media business Allurvik, out of Nunavut, are a way that not only allow the younger generation to carry on the torch, but preserve the language, its writing, and its instruction in case of darker days.

WATCH Smith’s visit below, starting with him surprising people on the street…

SHARE This Incredible Talent On A Mission To Save The Cree Language… 


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