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.