August 17, 2008

Hualapai language camps

Language camps help tribes keep languages aliveAbout 80 youngsters are camped in tents for the program at Hualapai Mountain Park.

They rise at 5 a.m. for a hike, followed by language sessions. One "master" uses pantomime to teach a Native game similar to street hockey, then asks kids to describe the actions in Pai terms. Others teach how to make arrows, gourd rattles and a drink from sumac berries.
And:Because language frames the way a person looks upon the world, Watahomigie said, its demise also threatens a tribe's values, traditions and religion.

That reality is magnified by the dominance of pop culture among kids.

"A lot of these kids here, they don't even think they're Indians. They're like everyone else," she said. "We have a lot of gangs, a lot of drug abuse, right now. Much of that is because children don't have a good self-concept. It's important for them to be proud of who they are, to respect themselves, to understand that they are a unique people but also part of a whole."

Nearby, two girls share an iPod. They appear to be ignoring their pottery instructor, but it turns out that the music in their ears comes from a traditional Hualapai singer.

August 14, 2008

Video game teaches language

RezWorld™--The 3D Interactive Video Game that teaches YOUR Native languageThornton Media, Inc., the leaders in "Language tools for Indian Country", presents RezWorld™, the first fully-immersive 3-D Video Game that teaches Native languages.

The game teaches spoken language and cultural knowledge. Students learn by playing fun, immersive 3D video games that simulate real life social communications. It involves "intelligent virtual humans" that recognize the trainee's speech, gestures and social behavior.

The technology was developed by academic scientists and has been used successfully by language learners. Extensive testing by third-party researchers measured positive learning results (May 2007).

August 04, 2008

Paid to speak Oneida

Saving Oneida language becomes a full time jobIndian tribes across the country are taking steps to preserve their native languages. The Oneida Indian Nation of New York has made it a full-time job, paying tribal members what they would earn in other jobs to immerse themselves in the nation's spoken word.

"We've had language programs here for a long time," said Sheri Beglen, a teacher in the Oneida's program. "But they were once a week for adults, or a half-hour after school for kids. You just can't learn a language one day a week.

"To learn a language, you have to hear it, use it constantly," said Beglen, who was among the first eight graduates of the Oneida program, now in its fourth year.

Gerald Hill, president of the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe, N.M., said while virtually all the more than 300 recognized American Indian tribes have some type of language program, they vary dramatically in approach and effectiveness. Hill said he was unaware of any other tribes paying members to learn the language as a full-time job.