March 21, 2010

Cherokee claymation language films

Videographer:  A portrait of Nathan Young IV

By Honey Dawn Karima PettigrewWhile emphasizing cultural studies and bilingual education in Native American languages, Young encountered Joe Erb, who taught him the techniques needed to create stop motion claymation movies. “I had the opportunity to work on ‘The Messenger’ to learn animation and I was lucky that Fort Gibson was so supportive in giving me the resources and freedom to learn,” he said.

Young, whose passion for Native American languages led him to pursue the study of Creek, Cherokee and Choctaw at the University of Oklahoma, viewed claymation films as an opportunity to educate and inspire. As part of the bilingual education program at Fort Gibson, Young’s students created short films, using the stop motion technique. These films shared traditional Cherokee stories, were performed in Cherokee (with English subtitles) by the students, who ranged in age from middle to high school level.
And:“I’m also working on a Pawnee language animation. I’m Pawnee/Kiowa/Delaware, and my Pawnee project is part one of a HAKO series that is called ‘Kits-pa-rux-ti: The Wonderful River.’” Young is eagerly anticipating the development of this series as a celebration of Pawnee culture.

“It’s the story of the origin of the Pawnee Medicine Societies. It’s not going to be a claymation, more like cell animation, actually drawn by frame. I’m just getting the language together now so that I can start animating.”

March 18, 2010

Ojibwe language learning software

Multi media company releases language learning software

By Kevin RoachGrassroots Indigenous Multimedia announces the launch of their new Ojibwe language learning software, Ojibwemodaa. The software application uses video conversations and engaging games to immerse the user in the Ojibwe language.

Mary Hermes, University of Minnesota professor with years of experience in education, and her husband Kevin Roach, an Ojibwe artist with expertise in tribal art and computer graphics, founded the nonprofit organization Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia (GIM) with the mission of developing materials designed to teach Ojibwe and other Native American languages.

GIM began recording videos of conversations between elders at language camps and other venues. For Ojibwe and many other indigenous languages, it is the everyday, conversational language that is least documented but most useful words and phrases for beginning learners. It was their original intention to simply publish the translated and transcribed videos on a website or youtube.

But in the process of applying for grants to support GIM’s work, Mary heard about Transparent Language from Ed McDermott at the U.S. Department of Education. He told them that Transparent had unique language tools and might be willing to let them use these tools to develop Ojibwe materials. Mary quickly contacted Michael Quinlan, CEO of Transparent Language, who offered his enthusiastic support, and a simple idea started growing into something big.

March 03, 2010

E-mailing with Cherokee keyboard

Letter perfect

Keyboard overlays help teach students the Cherokee language.

By Clifton Adcock
The e-mail was composed entirely in Cherokee syllabary.

Rachel and others at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School are the new keepers of their culture's fire, carrying into the information age the Cherokee language and its syllabary, created by Sequoyah nearly two centuries ago.

Although the font was created through an agreement between the tribe and Apple Inc. a few years ago, the students have a new tool to help type the language: a keyboard overlay that replaces the letters of the English alphabet with those of the 85-character syllabary.

Students had been using a variety of keystrokes on a standard keyboard to type in Cherokee, but now they can lay a thin black silicone pad over the standard keyboard to find the corresponding characters.
Below:  "Cherokee Nation Immersion School student Cambria Byrd chats with friends in the Cherokee language on her laptop Thursday. The school now has keyboard overlays to help students type using the Cherokee syllabary." (Adam Wisneski/Tulsa World)