June 28, 2010

Creek students perform Creek plays

Theater performs plays in the Creek Language

By Christina Good VoiceThe Okmulgee and Tulsa Creek Indian Community language classes, under the guidance of Jackson Barnett and Thunder Road Theater, have created two plays that were performed entirely in the Muscogee language June 20.

Okmulgee Creek language students Lillian Thomas, Pat Factor, Alfred Harley and Chalakee star in "Bocv, Hoktvlkogee," which is a comedy set in a Creek household when Grandma is away and Grandpa is in charge of making dinner for a visiting preacher.

"I enjoy being in this class," Chalakee said. "They said you play this part and I said, 'ok, I'll try.' I think I'm ready. I enjoy the classes too"

The other play is performed by the Tulsa Creek Indian Community language class.

"Nettv Momen Nere" is based on a traditional story written down by Jackson Barnett. This story explains how the animals met together to decide which should be longer, day or night. Based on Barnett's story, students in the Tulsa Creek Indian Community language class tried to imagine what the animals in this story might have said and done as they held their fateful meeting. Actors in the play are Jane Bardis, Margo Smith, Tallulah Smith and Adam Recvlohe.

June 24, 2010

Big demand for Ojibwe language camp

Ojibwe language camp to feature more native speakers

Attendance was high last year at the first Ojibwe language immersion camp on the Fond du Lac Reserva­tion.

By Jana Hollingsworth
Attendance was high last year at the first Ojibwe language immersion camp on the Fond du Lac Reserva­tion.

This year, organizers doubled the fluent speakers to prepare for what they expect to be 300 people at the four-day event.

“We discovered that this is what people really want to do,” said organizer Jim North­rop. “There is a great need for the Anishinaabe people to regain their language.”

June 14, 2010

Research shows Native language benefits

Study:  Inuit language schooling brings long-term benefits

With good base in Inuttitut, students do better

By Sarah Rogers
Long-term studies of school children in Nunavik show that students learn best and benefit from higher self-esteem when taught in their mother tongue.

The findings mean Inuit students with a good base in Inuttitut tend to do better in their studies, says McGill psychology professor Don Taylor.

According to Taylor’s research, Inuit kindergarten students score higher than their American counterparts on spatial intelligence tests.

Taylor also found that Inuit kindergarten students taught in Inuttitut almost doubled their personal self-esteem by the end of the year, compared to a slight drop if they were educated in English or French.
Below:  "Inuttitut instruction boosts skills and self-esteem, says McGill researcher Don Taylor, who recently visited Kangiqsujuaq." (Photo by David Benoit)

Languages get "Breath of Life"

American Indian languages get 'Breath of Life'

An intensive five-day workshop at OU's Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History taught participants how to study and teach the linguistics of tribal languages

By James S. Tyree
Tracey Moore is a member of the Osage, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee and Sac & Fox tribes who aims to help keep their disappearing languages alive by learning, speaking and teaching them.

She learned how recently during the Breath of Life workshop at the University of Oklahoma's Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

The May 24-28 program taught participants how to conduct linguistic research on tribal languages, starting with archival materials at the museum.

The program is designed for people from tribes that lack fluent speakers of their language who want to help preserve the language for future generations.

Ojibwe declared Red Lake's official language

Ojibwe declared Red Lake Nation official language; language revitalization meeting scheduledAt a special April 27 meeting of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Tribal Council, elected officials voted unanimously to declare Ojibwe as the official language of the Red Lake Nation.

Michael Meuers, Red Lake public relations officer, reported that the resolution noted that many the indigenous languages in the United States are in danger of disappearing if they are not preserved or promoted. The Tribal Council declaration strongly supported the preservation of the Ojibwe language for the benefit of future generations.

Red Lake has already begun a multifaceted approach to preserve the language at Red Lake in a variety of ways, including sponsoring a two-day language summit held in June 2008. Other efforts include teaching on line, in the schools and community education. Other possibilities, such as language immersion, are being explored.

June 01, 2010

Digitizing old language tapes

Trying to save vanishing languages

American Indians turn to recordings at American Philosophical Society.

By Stephan Salisbury
Archivists and librarians at the philosophical society are acutely aware of the precarious nature of native languages. The conference represented the culmination of a three-year effort to digitize the society's holdings--which have been accumulating for more than two centuries--and make them widely accessible over the Internet.

At the same time, the society has sought to work with tribal communities to find ways they can take advantage of the material, formerly available only to a small world of on-site scholars.

Michael Zimmerman, a Pokagon Potawatami linguist from Dowagiac in southwestern Michigan, said he found several hours of tapes in the society's archives recorded a generation ago in his own community. The material will help Zimmerman overcome local resistance to learning Potawatami from outside speakers.

Such resistance, which is not uncommon, has severely hampered efforts to resurrect language in a community that no longer has native speakers, he said.
Below:  "Timothy Powell, director of special American Indian projects for the American Philosophical Society, holds a microphone for Watie Akins of the Penobscot Nation during Welcome Song." (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff Photographer)

Learners' dictionaries for Alaskan languages

Southeast languages focus of books

NATIVE:  Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian words, phrases are included.

By Mike Dunham
Sealaska Heritage Institute has published a new series of learners' dictionaries for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages and the first-ever Alaska Haida phrasebook.

"We've been working on language restoration for nearly 10 to 12 years, and I would say for a greater part of this we've been working on these dictionaries," institute president Rosita Worl said in a press release.

The new books incorporate some important innovations.

The "Dictionary of Tlingit," for instance, is the first to include nouns and verbs and all minor word categories in a single resource. The vast majority of the verb forms have never before been documented or published. It also includes example sentences for most of the entries, which illustrate the words in a context.