The Oneida Indian Nation has released a new Oneida language-learning children’s book, The Legend of How the Bear Lost His Tail, based on the Haudenosaunee legend that has been passed down for generations.

Oneida Indian Nation Language Program Publishes Children’s Book in Collaboration with Madison-Oneida BOCES

The Legend of How the Bear Lost His Tail is made available through collaborative efforts and support from Madison-Oneida BOCES. The creative partnership has been a wonderful educational experience as the Oneida Indian Nation Language Department works to extend its reach in the community. In addition to developing the layout and printing the books at their own print shop, Madison-Oneida BOCES Staff and Curriculum Development and the Early Childhood Division provide assistance with instructional strategies that instructors in the department can use with students of all ages.’

In development for nearly a year and produced with original illustrations, the new book features both the Oneida text and the full English translation, as well as phonetics and pictures using a rebus format for the two main characters of the story, the bear and the fox. The rebus format allows any person to pick up the book and learn the words by the end of the story by using pictures, color, and phonetics right in the middle of the sentences. As specialists in curriculum development, the staff at Madison-Oneida BOCES suggested emphasizing a few chosen words that the reader could learn by the end of the story. Copies will be made available at local schools and libraries throughout the region – inviting all students, for the first time, to learn the language.

“Language is the foundation of any culture and fortifying our language for future generations remains a critical goal for the Oneida Indian Nation.  It is important for children to be exposed to different cultures, especially the cultures of the people in the communities in which they live. 

This book is an exceptional introduction to our culture and will help children learn the foundations of the Oneida language.”

– Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter

The Oneida Indian Nation’s Language Department is committed to promoting and reinvigorating the Oneida language throughout the community. That involves creating original content that is geared toward all educators and students.

“It’s been a pleasure collaborating with the Oneida Indian Nation to produce this book that will assist in the preservation of the Oneida Language.  Providing these books for the local community will strengthen our bond with our closest neighbors and offer an important introduction to Oneida culture that inspires learning through storytelling.”

Ed Rinaldo, Staff and Curriculum Development Director for Madison-Oneida BOCES

The partnership between Madison-Oneida BOCES and the Oneida Indian Nation has been a fruitful endeavor as a means to weave cultural understanding throughout the region. As neighbors and fellow stakeholders in the region, the cooperative educational agency has worked with the Nation on other educational resources, including posters, flashcards and annual calendars that feature new words and phrases each year.

English Version

Read by Nation Member Brooke Thomas (Wolf Clan)

Oneida Version

Read by Nation Member and Language Instructor Mary Blau (Turtle Clan)