December 28, 2009

Cherokee language on Facebook

Cherokee language now on Facebook

By Christina Good VoiceCherokee speakers are starting to use popular Web sites to translate words, phrases and other parts of the language on the sites into Cherokee.

Cherokee Nation citizen Roy Boney is one of 14 translators on the social Web site Facebook who helps Cherokee people maintain ties to their culture by allowing speakers registered on the site to translate a glossary of common Facebook words and phrases. Their ultimate goal is to translate the entire site into Cherokee.

“As a citizen, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for Cherokee to exist in a virtual space that’s a major part of the world community,” he said.

As of Dec. 17, there were 34,647 untranslated phrases on Facebook’s Cherokee translations page, 142 submitted translations and 14 active translators. Those translators are from areas in the CN jurisdiction, as well as Texas, California and other areas across the United States.
Comment:  Using social media to encourage language use is one of the methods I talked about at the Falmouth language summit in November. Glad to see someone else had the same idea.

December 26, 2009

Jana's American Indian Christmas

Christmas in 10 Native American Languages

By Monika EvstatievaFor weeks now, Christmas music has been playing everywhere—carols in the grocery store, holiday hits at Starbucks, and live music on the streets. But one artist has taken the holiday spirit in a different direction. Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Jana Mashonee recorded 10 traditional Christmas songs in 10 different Native American languages. The result is American Indian Christmas.

"I wanted to do something no one else has done. And so I thought maybe I can do a whole album in Native languages," Mashonee says, "And I thought I am crazy; I am doing it."
And:There are over 500 different Native American tribes in the United States, but Mashonee, a Lumbee-Tuscarora, says often the elders are the only keepers of the languages. She recorded the album to make the Native language more accessible and accepted.

"It is kind of a way to know that these languages are still living ... to be able to have the younger people in the tribes to know more about their language and accept it," Mashonee explains. "And, also for non-Native people to hear a Native language."
Below:  Jana Mashonee's latest album is called New Moon Born. (Carter James)

December 16, 2009

Barona gives dictionary to NMAI

Tribes presents dictionary to NMAIThe monumental 696-page Barona Inter-Tribal Dictionary was presented to the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) during Native American Heritage Month. The dictionary is comprised of thousands of familiar as well as long-lost words and phrases aimed at assisting Yuman language speakers of the San Diego County Tribes in revitalizing their traditional native tongue.

A revised and enhanced version of the original 48-page Barona dictionary project, the expansive and updated edition contains a number of innovative features such as history of the project, biographies of the main contributors and a map of the language area.
Below:  From left to right: Barona Tribal Chairman Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, Barona Tribal Councilwoman Beth Glasco, Larry Echo Hawk of the BIA and Barona Tribal Councilmember Charles “Beaver” Curo.

December 11, 2009

Cherokee Language Bowl

Tribe announces Language Bowl winnersRecently 14 teams from several area schools displayed their knowledge and understanding of the Cherokee language as they competed for top honors in the Cherokee Nation’s annual Cherokee Language Bowl.

Coordinated by the tribe’s Johnson-O’Malley program, the competition is designed to promote the study, use and retention of the Cherokee language in young people. It is open to schools in the tribe’s jurisdictional area to students in grades kindergarten through 12 who are eligible to participate in the JOM program.

“Our cultural competitions were developed for cultivating the ground for students of the JOM program to know and understand more of who they are and where they come from,” Shelley Butler-Allen, CN JOM program director, said. “The Cherokee language is a very critical element for a student’s self identity and tribal identity, so we feel like these competitions help plant the seed for them and for their future.”

December 08, 2009

Immersion class for Cherokee employees

Video:  Cherokee Nation employees immerse in tribe’s language

By Christina Good VoiceCherokee Nation citizen Carla Feathers has a father who speaks Cherokee fluently. Although she’s not fluent, she always wanted to learn the language.

Now thanks to an initiative by the tribe’s Language Strategic Work Team, Feathers and other CN employees can immerse themselves in the language with hopes of learning it.

On Oct. 1, the tribe replaced a 20-hour language class for employees with a 40-hour immersion class. All employees will be required to take it as part of a core curriculum, according to a CN Employee Development e-mail.
Below:  "Ed Fields, left, speaks to Cherokee Nation employees in Cherokee during a 40-hour immersion course employees are required to take. Fields is a Cherokee language instructor." (Photo by Roger Graham)

December 07, 2009

Quechua-language TV station

Quechua language TV hits the airwaves in Ecuador

By Rick KearnsTV MICC Channel 47 of Ecuador became the country’s first Quechua-language community television station in July; it’s operated by the Indigenous and Campesino Movement of Cotopaxi (MICC) and will air 60 percent of its programming in Quechua.

The new station is located in the city of Latacunga, in north central Ecuador in an Andean basin that has a large Quechua-speaking population and is near many other indigenous communities as well.

On July 17, TV MICC hit the airwaves for the first time and reached 400 communities in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo and some parts of Pichincha and Pastaza in the east.

“We are interested in speaking about the earth and the water and about collective rights,” said MICC spokeswoman Maritza Salazar. “We want to make biographical documentaries to recover the historical memory of our men and women leaders. We want to speak about nature, and the struggles for water.”
Andean nations seek revival for ancient Inca tongue

By Walker SimonA shaman blows a bull's horn on festival day and pivots to clouds of burning incense in a purification ceremony, all shot on video.

The snapshot of native American life opens "Nukanchik Yuyay," a twice-daily newscast in Quechua, the language spoken by millions of people across the Andes and enjoying a revival as even presidents take up its cause.

The program's newscasters speak below a woolen tapestry of Cotopaxi, a glacier-capped volcano within sight of the station, Ecuador's channel 47. Besides the station's cameras, a wolf mask bares white fangs.

Based in Latacunga, 80 km (50 miles) south of Quito, Channel 47 says it is the world's first television station for Quechua speakers. On air since July, it features 30 percent Quechua programs and aims to go mostly monolingual as its audience increases.

"Our next project is Quechua cartoons ... to draw in children," says station manager Angel Tiban.

Language preservation using Twilight

A savvy Native language organization could spin Jacob Black's Quileute line in New Moon into an ad campaign. For details, see Language Preservation Using Twilight in my Newspaper Rock blog.

Below:  "I speak Quileute and 'Werewolf' too!"

November 30, 2009

Sidewalk plaques in Ohlone language

Reviving the language of a vanished tribe

By Carl NolteOn the south side of King Street, between the Caltrain station and AT&T Park, are 104 small brass plaques embedded in the sidewalk. On them are engraved all of the known words of a language called Rammaytush, the language of the people who lived for more than 1,000 years in what is now called Mission Bay.

There are words for numbers, words for relatives--brother, sister, my husband, my wife. Verbs: to drink (owahto), to eat (ahmush), to give (sume), to sing (harwec), to dance (irshah), to see (atemhimah), to run (othemhimah), to kill (meme). They are all that is left of a language, an explanatory plaque says, "the authentic voice of a vanished people."
And:But nothing is quite as simple as it seems. The people of Mission Creek have not vanished. Their descendants are around still--and they are attempting to revitalize the Rammaytush language and get their tribe--the Muwekma Ohlone--recognized by the government.

"There are thousands of us," said Andrew Galvan, who is a descendant of a Bay Miwok man named Liberato and an Ohlone woman called Obulinda who were married in Mission Dolores in 1802. Galvan is the curator of Mission Dolores and is not extinct.

October 31, 2009

Shi-Shi-Etko shot in Halq’eméylem

Residential school film plays Bay Street Film Festival

A film about a young girl’s final four days at home before going off to residential school aired Oct. 2 at the Bay Street Film Festival.

By Rick GarrickWhen Kroll first saw the children’s book Shi Shi Etko, which was written by Nicola Campbell, she realized she wanted to film the story.

“I came across the book by Nicola Campbell and could just visualize it in my head,” Kroll said, explaining she shot the film entirely in the Halq’eméylem language of the Sto:lo First Nation. “We got language coaches in, the actors were really dedicated.”

Kroll said the actor who played the Elder remembers being yelled at for speaking her own language while at residential school; only a few of the Elders now speak their language in the Chilliwack area of B.C., where the film was shot about a year ago.

“Only a handful of Elders speak the language anymore,” Kroll said. “I got to know about the language and the traditions of the people of that area. We wanted to keep the film as traditional as possible.”
Comment:  I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but it sounds like a good way to present the boarding-school story. Don't show the horrors of the boarding schools explicitly, because that only comes across as preachy. Imply the horrors by showing what the child is about to lose: her deeply-rooted culture and language.

For more on the subject, see Shi-Shi-Etko Trailer and Sto:lo Film of Children's Book.

Below:  "Kate Kroll, director of Shi Shi Etko, screened her film at the Bay Street Film Festival in Thunder Bay." (Rick Garrick--Wawatay News)

October 12, 2009

Apple computers with Cherokee font

Computer contribution helps preserve Cherokee language

By LeeAnn DreadfulwaterLiana Marquis of Richardson, Texas, contributed four Apple laptop computers valued at $4,000 to the Cherokee Nation Education Corporation with the stipulation that they be used for the Cherokee Education Language degree program at NSU. Marquis is a private citizen who has made several past contributions to the Cherokee Nation.

The biggest advantage for a Cherokee language learner is that every Apple computer sold since 2002 already has the Cherokee language font installed on it. Because the computers have the ability to type and display the Cherokee syllabary, they are a natural match for the NSU students, according to Gilliland. The computers will be available for check-out by the NSU Cherokee language program students.

October 09, 2009

Mi'kmaw board book for babies

Celebrating literacy and Mi'kmaq History Month with first Mi'kmaw board book for babiesIn celebration of Mi'kmaq History Month, the Read to Me! Program launched the Mi'kmaw version of Sheree Fitch's popular baby book Kisses Kisses Baby O!, translated by Mi'kmaw linguist Bernie Francis, and the Mi'kmaw edition of the Read to Me! bag at Indian Brook House of Learning today. The Mi'kmaw bag contains Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu (Kisses, Kisses Baby O!) and other books and reading resources for Mi'kmaw families. Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu is the very first Mi'kmaw board book for babies.

"It is important that our literacy resources reflect the diversity of culture and language in Nova Scotia," says Carol McDougall, Director of the Read to Me! Program. "I am excited to add the Mi'kmaw bag to our growing collection of literacy resources."

September 22, 2009

Golf signs in Ktunaxa

St. Eugene Golf renamed in Ktunaxa languageThrough a coordinated effort by staff and Ktunaxa elders, golfers at the St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino can now learn a few words in Ktunaxa as they play a round.

"We want to be more than a golf resort," said Dallas Ferguson, chief executive officer. "We want to be able to educate people on the Ktunaxa and aboriginal people as a whole. We see it as something unique we can offer as part of that whole experience you are just not going to find anywhere else."

Currently, the tee box markers throughout the golf course are being changed as the holes have been renamed in the Ktunaxa language—with phonetic spelling and translation. In keeping with the Ktunaxa culture, the nature of the course and the overarching environmental ethos of the resort, the hole names reflect far more than distance and shape. They show an intimate knowledge of the environment that developed over 10,000 years of aboriginal history and 11 years of first-hand experience with the course.
Below:  "Graeme Douglas, Dorothy Alpine and Richard Bellerose show off the new name tag at hole No. 2."

August 28, 2009

Ojibwe Language Weekend

American Indian Studies Ojibwe Language Weekend--'Ni'Shin!'

By Brita BrookesThe Michigan State Department of Linguistics & German, Asian, Slavic, and African Languages, The American Indian Studies Program, and the North American Indigenous Student Organization sponsored and organized the weekend event “Learning and Living the Language” which created an environment where students and community members could be immersed in the Ojibwe language. As language Professor Helen Roy communicated on the event flyer, “it is our duty and our inherent nature as Anishinaabeg to preserve the language of our ancestors.”

The Pow Wow which was held at a local community center meeting room was done completely in the Ojibwe language. Third year Linguistics Student Autumn Mitchell read aloud two stories in Ojibwe while a projection screen on the wall projected artful illustrations of the storyline.

August 12, 2009

Bemidji businesses post Ojibwe signs

Bemidji businesses including Ojibwe in signs

By Tom Robertson Shared Vision member Michael Meuers came up with the idea of asking businesses to post signs in Ojibwe. Meuers' goal was to get 20 businesses signed on to the idea in the first year. But in just six weeks, nearly 60 businesses are on board.

That includes big organizations like Bemidji State University, the City of Bemidji and the local hospital. It also includes smaller organizations like Harmony Foods, a downtown health food cooperative that will soon produce Ojibwe labels for the fruits and vegetables in its produce section.

Meuers works with local Ojibwe language experts to help businesses with proper usage and spelling of Ojibwe words. He said a local funeral home has asked for an Ojibwe translation for a blessing for grieving families. Other businesses have asked for translation help for words like "pharmacist" and "we fix computers."

The Shared Vision group is working on strategies for tackling a wide range of complex race issues. But Meuers said the Ojibwe signs are a simple gesture, and the first tangible sign of progress.

"It's profound in its simplicity, and it's inexpensive to do," Meuers said. "The thought occurred to me that Indian people would look at this as a welcoming and a sign of respect. The non-Indians in the community would learn a little bit about the indigenous peoples that have been here for thousands of years, and the tourists would love it, so there's an economic side of it, too."

August 03, 2009

Ktunaxa learning centers

Virtual elder rekindles hope for revival of Canadian aboriginal languageThe Ktunaxa have been digitally archiving their language since 1999 and they built their own broadband network in 2007 in order to make a better use of these language training resources.

The 7.7-million-Canadian-dollars (about 7 million U.S. dollars) Ktunaxa Nation Network is currently the only native-owned open-fiber-to-the-home net work in North America, providing speeds of 100 megabits per second to each home.

"We're now wired like no other community in North America," Maki sadi. "Not many people get a chance to change the course of predicted history, but with hard work and fiber, we will."

Four community learning centers has been set up in each of the Ktunaxa communities, all of them are equipped with high speed internet and vedio-conferencing devices. Specially trained staff there offer online educational classes or technical assistance to band members.

July 28, 2009

Cherokee phone-app video

Free Cherokee Language iPod/iPhone AppCherokee Lite (Free). Available on iTunes App Store now.

Thornton Media presents the FIRST EVER indigenous language iPod/iPhone App in the iTunes store. Available NOW! Free Cherokee Lite app, full version $9.99. Contact us to create one in YOUR language!

From the leaders in "Language Tools for Indian Country" (

Sci-fi film in Tsilhqot'in

Over in my Newspaper Rock blog I reported on a science-fiction movie being filmed in the Tsilhqot'in language. Check it out.

July 22, 2009

Language products for iPod and iPhone

Thornton Media, Inc.Thornton Media, Inc. creates custom hi-tech tools to help save endangered indigenous languages.

We are Native-owned and have worked with over 100 American Indian tribes and Canadian First Nations since 1995.
Thornton Media Inc.:  Our StoryA New Beginning...With Award Winning Products!

We continue to listen to our client's needs. TMI's clients were demanding a more flexible product at a lower price. By mid-2009, Thornton Media developed the Language Pal software to program Nintendo DSi specifically for language teaching. By August 2008, the decision was made to stop selling the defense technology because of rising prices and other issues. Thornton Media also responded by programming smaller hand-helds, creating iPod Touch/iPhone Apps, with many more features at a very low cost. Thornton Media will continue to finance the creation of programmable open-source software that would be available to tribes at no cost.
Comment:  I assume the "defense technology" refers to Thornton's Phraselator products.

July 09, 2009

First Salish graduating class

Nkwusm works to preserve Salish language

By Mark RatledgeNkwusm, a Salish Language immersion school on the Salish-Kootenai Reservation in Arlee, Mont. had its first graduation June 12.

Three boys and one girl, all 14 years old finished their language immersion program and next year will move into the public school system.

Located in an old bowling alley built in the late 1970s, the school has renovated the building into classrooms, and a capital campaign is in progress to raise funds for a new building. Inside, the classrooms look like any other school, except for the Salish alphabet on the walls and artwork depicting Salish cultural activities, and the sounds of children talking and singing in Salish. The school itself is operated by the Nkwusm Salish Language Revitalization Institute, a nonprofit formed in 2003 to research, promote and preserve the Salish Language.
Below:  "Patrick Pierre, 80, a Pend d’Oreille elder and fluent Salish speaker, who teaches at NKwusm, and Ma’ii Pete, 14, one of the school’s first graduating students in the class of 2009, are seen at Nkwusm’s graduation pow wow June 13." (Photo courtesy Mark Ratledge)

English/Ojibwe signage

From the Bemidji Pioneer, 7/8/09:

Ojibwe language:  Bemidji businesses adopt bilingual signage“Aaniin” “Boozhoo”--customers to Bemidji’s Cabin Coffee House & Café are now welcomed in both Ojibwe and English.

Table tents show them numbers, animals and the major Red Lake clans in both languages. And they can try their Ojibwe language skills to order makade-mashkikiwaaboo (coffee) and naboob (soup).

Noemi Aylesworth, Cabin Coffee House owner, said the idea came from Shared Vision, a Bemidji group working to make relations between American Indians and members of the majority culture more comfortable and friendly.
Below:  "Noemi Aylesworth, owner of the Cabin Coffee House & Café, holds a table tent listing the seven major Red Lake Nation clans in Ojibwe and English. Hers is the first business to go bilingual, but nine others have committed to the movement suggested by Shared Vision." (Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron)

July 07, 2009

Native language summer schools

Native language summer schools growingA new Navajo language summer school is being offered by Albuquerque Public Schools this year in New Mexico.

The program aims to help American Indian children in the area stay connected to their heritage and motivate them to achieve more academically.

The Santa Fe-based Indigenous Language Institute which tries to preserve native languages says New Mexico, Washington, Oregon and North Dakota lead the country in allowing Native Americans to teach their languages in public school classrooms.

Robert Cook, the president of the National Indian education Association, says native language schools are growing nationwide.
Classes aim to preserve urban Indians' heritage

By Heather ClarkOn his first day of the summer program, Lucas learned about the Navajo Code Talkers and how they confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language.

"That really drew him in right away," Mike Arviso said. "Because of the language, a single word has so many different meanings."

While many of the families want the instruction because of practical reasons, like enabling their children to speak with relatives in their native language, Thompson also sees long-term educational benefits.

Research shows that becoming disconnected from their culture leads to a lack of motivation among Native American students and can leave students behind academically, Thompson said.

For example, among New Mexico 10th graders taking the state high school competency exam, only 47 percent of Native American students passed the first time, compared with 77 percent of white students, according to state Public Education Department data for the 2007-2008 school year.

"If the Native American children feel that their culture, their language, their heritage is valued in the school, they will be very motivated," Thompson said.

June 14, 2009

"Eminence credentials" for Indians

Tribes reclaim languages once spoken in California

By Peter HechtLawmakers are moving on a bill to create a special American Indian languages teaching credential to promote efforts to teach–and recapture–some of the nearly 100 languages once spoken by California Indians.

The measure–Assembly Bill 544 by Democrat Joe Coto of San Jose–declares that "teaching American Indian languages is essential to the proper education of American Indian children."

The bill would also allow fluent speakers to teach special classes in public schools as part of understanding California history and culture.

The limited "eminence credential" could enable some tribal elders with little formal education to give lectures on ancient languages widely spoken before the Gold Rush.

June 13, 2009

Cherokee language through art

Video:  Cherokee Heritage Center exhibit celebrates Cherokee language

By Will ChavezCherokee artists who contributed artwork to the “Generations: Cherokee Language through Art” exhibit met each other and the public June 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

For the exhibit, artists were asked to create a visual narrative of the Cherokee language using a different character from the Cherokee syllabary. The 93 artists who volunteered their time are from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and range in age from 3 to 91.

“We have a very eclectic group of people, which is exactly what we wanted,” said CHC Museum Curator Mickel Yantz. He said artists used ink, paint, quilts, a television set, baskets, wood and ceramics to create 85 original pieces of work. “Just about every single medium you can think of we have on display.”
Below:  "Mickel Yantz, Cherokee Heritage Center Museum curator, aligns placards for artwork on display in the 'Generations: Cherokee Language through Art' exhibition at the CHC in Park Hill, Okla." (Photo by Will Chavez)

June 05, 2009

T-shirts promote Indian words

Entrepreneurial spirit lands MSU students in first place

T-shirt designs win American Indian business plan competitionFour students involved in the American Indian Business Leaders club at MSU Billings walked away with the best business plan among colleges in the organization’s annual national leadership conference in Arizona.

The team members included Mary Alice Walker, a member of the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska; Curtis Wallette, a Northern Cheyenne; Karis Jackson, a Crow/Hidatsa and Angela Deputee, a Crow.

“At first, we didn’t think it was a good plan,” said Walker, a recent business management graduate. “But after we did our research, we found out we’re the only ones to have this idea.”

The “idea” was actually a formal business plan developed by the four students to turn an old building in Lame Deer into a T-shirt business. That business, called NDN Translations in the business plan, promotes awareness and pride in American Indian culture and heritage on T-shirts. The front of the shirt carries a single word or phrase in a specific tribal language with a little arrow pointing to the back for the translation.

While the concept seems pretty simple and tourist landscape is scattered with American Indian T-shirts, the students said their idea took things a step forward from the traditional images of famous elders, artwork of headdresses or bison. They provided a way to honor and celebrate their language with a word or phrase.

June 04, 2009

Haida language animated videos

Two stop-motion videos on the Haida Nation website teach the Haida language in a fun way.

Yaanii K'uukaYaanii K’uuka jaada dagangaas gaa diidsee jaadaa xagaa, Yaanii K'uuka
gan kagan dee. Gudangang isgyaan yaalang gee sahlgang iisgaay gudangang.

A spoiled young girl is taken by the wild forest-woman, Yaanii K'uuka
and must find a way to escape and make her way back to her parents.
The Golden Spruce

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Videos and Cartoons.

May 13, 2009

Learning Arapaho in the park

Kids get language immersion at Arapaho schoolThe 20 or so pupils of the school that allows only Arapaho language spoken within its walls in Arapahoe took a recent trip to the park to play and learn.

"It's part of the immersion. We're bringing them to the outside to expose them to the trees and the grass," Hughes said.
And:The teachers took their preschool through first-grade pupils to Jaycee Park in Riverton for more exposure to nature and the tribe's language outside of the classroom environment.

Hughes recalled the children's interaction with Arapaho language on the playground, "telling each other 'I want a drink of water' or 'I need to go to the bathroom,' things they know."
Below:  "Northern Arapaho tribal elder Laura Shakespeare rests under the shade of trees at Riverton City Park recently, while Arapaho Language Immersion School students Ilana Anderson and Dimikko Yellowbear, both 3, play nearby." (Martin Reed/Riverton Ranger via AP)

April 09, 2009

7th annual Oklahoma language fair

Language fair has drama in Norman

By Tami AlthoffMost of the audience couldn’t understand the language, but they certainly knew what was going on Tuesday when Cushing High School students presented "Sauc Pre-K in 2011” at the seventh annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Despite the language barrier, the content of the skit was universal.

"It was about stuff that would normally happen in a pre-K class,” Sydney Gabbard, a Cushing High School senior, said. "The language we were speaking was Sauc.”
And:More than 500 participants, in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, attended the language fair Monday and Tuesday at the museum. Coming from Oklahoma and other states, they competed in categories such as spoken word, dance, music, film and essay.

The event is the largest American Indian youth language fair in the country, featuring an estimated 24 languages.

Candessa Tehee Morgan, coordinator of the fair, said the event gives students a chance to learn and practice their native language.

April 06, 2009

Native films help preserve languages

Saving Native American languages[Elizabeth Weatherford is] director of the Native American Film and Video Festival which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Dozens of native language films are being shown, including the first to be written entirely in Alaska's Inupiaq language.

Sikumi/On the Ice, by Andrew Okpeaha Maclean, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was short listed for an Academy Award.

"Anything that can activate young people who have been saturated by the American media is really important," says Ms Weatherford.

"Film making can make them empowered by the use of language in their own world. It's the transmission of language through culture and there's an effortlessness to it."
Below:  "Sikumi is the first film to be written entirely in Alaska's Inupiaq language."

April 05, 2009

Minnesota efforts need coordination

Indian leaders, lawmakers try to save languages"Our Ojibwe language is officially in a state of crisis," Jourdain said. "We estimate that there are as few as 300 fluent language speakers remaining within our tribe. Our official tribal enrollment number is 9,397 members."

His tribe, like many others, is working on the issue, with a recent study resulting in a five-year plan to protect the language.

"This brings us one step closer to establishing a language immersion program on the reservation focusing on children and families," he said.

But Native Americans talking to legislative committees said coordination is needed, including with the state education system.

"We are all recreating the wheel," said Marisa Carr, who has translated school books into Dakota and Ojibwe.
And:Turning the tide is the goal of legislative bills sponsored by Olson and Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley.

The bills' bottom line is to create an inventory of existing language programs on the 11 Minnesota reservations, including school curriculum, and find ways to spread Indian language education.

March 30, 2009

Dakotah children's books and Scrabble

AAIA program saving endangered Native languages with translated children’s booksWhen elder Orsen Bernard sang to children in the Dakotah language, DeCoteau saw the need for teaching materials in Dakotah. “We realized that no matter how much you spoke in the language, everything else was in English. Every book, every song, every movie was in English. So we started creating materials to view in the language programs and schools.”

Although the program is in its infancy, in just a few years time, DeCoteau’s efforts have led to the creation of more than 60 children’s books, videos and CD’s in the Dakotah language. The program also created a Dakotah language Scrabble game, a rap CD, computer applications and a theatrical play.

DeCoteau also noted that other tribes wanting Scrabble in their Native languages could have them created. “We talked with the people at Hasbro and they said they would be happy to work with the AAIA to create them.”

Her unique and contemporary techniques for teaching Native languages are creating such positive results that other tribes are beginning to follow suit. She said the process is simple. “It’s all on Microsoft Publisher, we send the tribe the disc, they just delete the Dakotah language, add theirs and then print it out.”

March 11, 2009

Flashcards, classes, and audiotapes

Menominee tribe makes effort to keep language aliveUsing a booklet of flashcards held up by their teacher, the 2-year-olds pointed and repeated the words kuapenakaehsaeh (cup), aemeskwan (spoon) and paeces kahekan (fork). At home they've been known to ask their families for a snack using the Menominee words for crackers and fruit instead of English.And:The average age of the few dozen remaining native speakers is in the mid-70s, and some of the elders who speak the language are in ill health. However, the tribe has 10 trained Menominee language instructors who teach in the schools and College of Menominee Nation. The language is taught in day care and kindergarten through middle school. At the high school, it's a popular elective taken by three-quarters of the students.And:The [language and culture] commission trains substitute language teachers, works on language curriculum and helps with a University of Wisconsin-Madison project compiling a beginner's dictionary of the Menominee language. The tribe has also converted hundreds of hours of audiotapes of elders speaking stories, which were recorded decades ago, into digital versions that can be downloaded on iPods and laptops.

March 10, 2009

Film about Inupiaq language

Films tells Inupiaq history[Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson's] second film, "The Voice of Our Spirit," presents viewers with individuals, young and old, who struggle with the loss of language in their own personal way.

"The film chronicles a history that spans 150 years," said Edwardson during a video call from her current home in Melbourne, Australia. "It starts with the epidemics, then the missionaries and the boarding school. It provides a historical understanding of how it happened that no one speaks the language."
And:Until now, the School District never taught Inupiaq language and culture in a systematic way, according to Harcharek, most likely because no materials existed. That is already changing thanks to programs and a curriculum developed by Harcharek and fellow educators. Edwardson's films are a big part of the process.

An Anchorage anthropologist, historian and curriculum developer, Patricia Partnow, is currently working with the films to develop learning guides that will accompany them in classes and place them in context with the history the students are taught.

March 03, 2009

ILI wins Tech Savvy Award

The Indigenous Language Institute Wins National Verizon Tech Savvy AwardThe Indigenous Language Institute's Intergenerational workshop series is the national winner of the Third Annual Verizon Tech Savvy Awards.

Through the workshop, entitled Ancient Voices, Modern Tools: Native Languages and Technology, the institute instructs families, students and teachers on how to use technology to develop print and audio books to teach Native American languages at school and home. The institute, which is based in Santa Fe., N.M., and serves 2,000 Native Americans annually, will receive a $25,000 grant to continue and expand its program.

February 21, 2009

Atlas of dying languages

New atlas shows dying languages around the worldIn a presentation Thursday of a new world atlas of endangered languages, linguists stressed the list is not restricted to small or far-flung countries. They also sought to encourage immigrants to treasure their native languages.

"Language endangerment is a universal phenomenon," said Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist who edited the atlas' third edition, which is to appear in digital and paper versions.

The atlas says 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, and another 199 languages have fewer than 10 speakers left.

More than a fourth of the 192 languages once spoken in the United States have disappeared. Another 71 are severely endangered, according to the atlas.

February 16, 2009

Ojibwe Language Weekend Pow Wow

American Indian Studies Ojibwe Language Weekend–“Ni’Shin!”The Michigan State Department of Linguistics & German, Asian, Slavic, and African Languages, The American Indian Studies Program, and the North American Indigenous Student Organization sponsored and organized the weekend event “Learning and Living the Language” which created an environment where students and community members could be immersed in the Ojibwe language. As language Professor Helen Roy communicated on the event flyer, “it is our duty and our inherent nature as Anishinaabeg to preserve the language of our ancestors.”

The Pow Wow which was held at a local community center meeting room was done completely in the Ojibwe language. Third year Linguistics Student Autumn Mitchell read aloud two stories in Ojibwe while a projection screen on the wall projected artful illustrations of the storyline. Autumn has been a student of Helen Roy’s language teachings since Middle School. Autumn read two stories “When you Give a Mouse a Cookie” and my favorite “When you give a Mouse a Drumstick.” Already with extensive language training for her age, Autumn will be graduating in a year and a half and will be able to utilize her skills in continuing the legacy of promoting the language.

January 13, 2009

Passamaquoddy-Maliseet dictionary

Natives, educators hail release of dictionaryPerley estimates that less than two per cent of the 5,000 Passamaquoddy- Maliseet people living in a handful of communities in New Brunswick, Maine and Quebec are fluent in their native tongue.

But her ongoing struggle to preserve and restore the language to common use has been given a major boost with the release of a Passamaquoddy-Maliseet dictionary.

Authored by David A. Francis, a former tribal governor from Maine, and Robert A. Leavitt, a former member of UNB's faculty of education, the book represents 30 years of collaboration between native speakers, educators and linguists.

Its more than 18,000 entries contain remarkable detail about the physical, spiritual, social and emotional environments of the Passamaquoddy and Maliseet peoples, who called most of the region home before the arrival of European settlers.

When It's Gone It's Gone recognized

Norman students hope film helps rescue native tongues

Norman club interviewed tribal elders for award-winning language documentaryA documentary about the dying languages of American Indian tribes has received state honors for a group of Norman students, and is being used in classrooms as a teaching tool.

Students in Norman High School’s Native American Club were recognized recently by state Education Department officials for their documentary, titled "When It’s Gone, It’s Gone.”

The students interviewed tribal elders representing American Indian tribes in Oklahoma and asked them about their native languages and the struggle to keep their languages and cultures alive.

Most of the elders on the video are in their 80s and have witnessed the languages of their tribes dying out as the younger generations were raised in an English-speaking society.