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Keeping the Comanche language alive

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LAWTON, Okla._ One teacher here is breathing new life into the Comanche language. It’s one of 16 American Indian dialects in Oklahoma that are on the brink of extinction.

“You’re not going to get a speaker if you don't hurry up and teach these children how to talk,” says Billie Kreger, the language teacher at Comanche Children.

Kreger is fueled by passion and she’s engaging her classroom everyday. More than a dozen students, ages six to 13, are soaking in much more than the sun this summer; they’re learning the basics of the Comanche language.

“I want them to learn their colors, their numbers, their alphabet,” says Kreger.

She agrees learning the native tongue is not easy, but she’s working to make it fun and exciting. Her students call her grandma Billie. She’s a grandma on a mission to save the Comanche language.

Kreger learned the language later in life, in her 40s, with the goal of capturing the culture and teaching her own kids how speak their native tongue. For the past ten years, however, she’s shifted her attention to her extended family, her students.

"It's like part of our culture, right? So, I would love to learn it and just like keep it in my head and remember all of it,” says Lottie Deere, who is learning the language for the second time.

Amiya Devine says she plans to use the skills she’s learning to fulfill big aspirations.

“One day I want to become the Comanche Nation princess,” says Devine.

Kreger says she is simply happy to help facilitate the process and give the youngsters the skills which will help both them and the tribe.

“Learning this language is very important,” says Kreger.

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