August 06, 2007

Only rancher can save Mandan

Rancher, linguist working to preserve native languageAn effort to save the Mandan language may rest on the shoulders of a 75-year-old horse rancher.

Experts believe Edwin Benson is the only person living who speaks fluent Mandan, the language of the American Indian tribe that became the host of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during the explorers' winter encampment in North Dakota more than 200 years ago.

For past three summers, in six-hour shifts, Benson and California linguist Sara Trechter have camped out in a small office so he can speak into a microphone while Trechter takes notes. The two recently finished transcribing seven Mandan folk stories.

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