September 24, 2008

More on RezWorld

Immersive video game aims to revitalize American Indian languagesIndian kids will soon have a Super Mario-like character of their own to guide through an array of digital puzzles and game landscapes. But instead of a character who looks like the mustached Italian plumber, made popular from appearances in dozens of Nintendo offerings, a new video game created by a Native-owned company will feature tribal characters speaking a variety of Indian languages.

The game, called RezWorld, is billed as the first fully immersive 3-D interactive video game that can help young Indians learn to speak their own languages via a unique speech recognition component.

“We’re all about teaching Native language in a context that really engages our young people,” said Don Thornton, the Cherokee owner of the California-based Thornton Media, which has led the way in creating the game’s prototype.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Video Game Teaches Language.

Declaration for Anishinaabemowin

Putting Anishinaabemowin firstAn alliance of Anishinaabe tribal leaders and citizens from Canada has put forth a declaration asserting that Anishinaabemowin is their primary language.

The declaration, which was approved by the Walpole Island First Nation of the Bkejwanong Territory in August, says that immersion and fluency in the Anishinaabemowin language is a long-term goal for all of its citizens.

September 18, 2008

Smithsonian has stuff

Drafting a FutureDuring his getting-acquainted tour of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, the institution's new secretary, was stopped in his tracks by a group of researchers poring over pages of "endangered" languages.

Clough sat there in the reading room of the National Anthropological Archives in Suitland, one of the many outposts of the Smithsonian empire, and heard how experts at the institution have been collecting languages since before the Smithsonian was the Smithsonian.

This group handed him some cards. He undid the white ribbon and found slips with words from the Poosepatuck Nation. Clough recalled he was a little flabbergasted when Robert Leopold told him these were 19th-century copies of a set that Thomas Jefferson had written on a trip to Long Island in 1791. And Clough (pronounced "cluff") said he was even more impressed when he visited a laboratory and saw that 8,000 pages of Cherokee had been digitized and shared with North Carolina tribe members who wanted to teach their children the language.