February 28, 2012

Shoshone databases, iPads, and software

As elders pass, Wind River Indian Reservation teachers turn to technology to preserve Shoshone language

By Tetona DunlapWhen Teran started the phonetic and audio dictionary project 10 years ago, she said she felt a sense of urgency because there were only a few Shoshone elders who were fluent speakers. Today, Teran estimates that number is even smaller as elders pass away. And for her, that sense of urgency has amplified.

“We’re real poor on elders but our language is really rich and beautiful,” Teran shared. “Time is of the essence.”

In January 2012, Guina passed away, decreasing the number of fluent speakers even more.

“When Manfred passed away my heart just went down,” Teran said. “I thought ‘Geez, that’s one less person.”

In the meantime, she is working to revitalize the language through books rather than audio recordings.

In Oct. 2011, Teran received a grant from the Wyoming Historical Society to write a children’s book called “Elka,” which is a family story about a baby elk Teran’s brothers caught and raised. The book will contain Shoshone words that are translated into English and listed in a glossary. She also received a donation from a family foundation in California of $400 to buy software that will allow her to create a font for the Shoshone language since writing words phonetically can be very long.

And though it may seem that Teran’s idea of capturing the language digitally has stopped for now; the conversation started by Teran and others is being picked up once again — this time with the use of technology such as iPads and computer software.

“The whole idea of using technology is to incorporate language and culture. It’s a very effective tool for me because of student engagement,” said middle and high school Shoshone language teacher Lynette St. Clair. She often has her students utilize laptops and programs like PowerPoint to aid students in speaking Shoshone.
Below:  "Lynette St. Clair watches her students Selena Jarvis, D'Etta Durgin, and Sierra Ferris, left to right, using the Shoshone language iPad application she developed." (Brad Christensen/WyoFile)

February 22, 2012

Animal app is criticized

Native Language App Gets Cool ReceptionA new American Indian language app hit the iTunes store January 20. The app features translations of animals from English to four languages—Diné (Navajo), Lakota (Sioux), Mvskoke (Muscogee Creek) and Ponca.

Each language features a variety of animal translations, which users can click on to hear the word pronounced in their preferred language.

But some users have responded negatively to the effort, one said “14 animals and that’s your app? Come on, do these languages some justice.”

Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT) created the app and the group’s executive director, Shirley K. Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, responded to the negative comments saying the app is “a simple start.”

February 15, 2012

Tribal elders to teach languages?

Students could soon learn Indian languages

Bill aims to make it easier to teach them

By Joe Hanel
Indian tribal elders would be able to work in public schools as teachers of their native languages, under a bill that advanced Wednesday at the state Capitol.

Senate Bill 57 authorizes schools to hire people fluent in native languages, even though they might not have a teaching license.

“The tribes have such a great opportunity to get the tribal elders involved in the program,” said Ernest House Jr., secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Although Southwest Colorado has the state’s only two Indian reservations, the bill is modeled on a program in Denver Public Schools. Denver has the state’s highest Indian population, including an especially large group of Lakota people.

February 14, 2012

Cherokee language happy hour

NSU students create Cherokee Language Happy Hour

By Tesina JacksonStriving to learn outside of the classroom, Northeastern State University Cherokee language students created a Cherokee Language Happy Hour on Jan. 28 by translating Boomerang Café’s menu from English to Cherokee and interacting with the public.

“From our perspective at the university, especially my students in the programs that we run at Northeastern, they practice Cherokee all day long in classrooms. They practice Cherokee in the hallways there, but they really don’t bring it outside into the community where they can mix with the fluent speakers, where they can mix with the people that use it everyday out on the streets of Tahlequah, out in the roads of the communities,” said Dr. Leslie Hannah, NSU Cherokee programs director. “They’ve got classroom Cherokee, so this is our effort to bring that Cherokee out of the classroom into the community and let them get some community Cherokee because it is a community language.”

At the Boomerang Café, NSU students changed the menus from English to Cherokee so waitresses and customers spoke Cherokee when dealing with food orders.

“Right now we’re really trying to create venues for the language use. So today was a great step in order to get a lot of the parents from the immersion school, as well as children and students from the university to use the language they’ve been learning,” NSU student Hayley Miller said.
Below:  Karen and Bruce Gaddis, left, use Cherokee and English menus at the Boomerang Café in Tahlequah, Okla., to order food. On Jan. 28, Northeastern State University students created a Cherokee Language Happy Hour at the café by translating the English menu to Cherokee." (Tesina Jackson/Cherokee Phoenix)

February 09, 2012

Audio books in Cherokee

CNF to create Cherokee–language focused reading center

By Tesina JacksonThrough a partnership with Cherokee Media Ltd., the Cherokee Nation Foundation plans to create a reading center featuring audio books in the Cherokee language.

“The reading center is a portable resource used in a classroom setting,” said CNF Executive Director Kimberlie Gilliland. “It is incorporated into daily lesson plans to help with literacy and Cherokee language fluency. The reading center is currently being used in the Cherokee Nation Language Immersion School in a first grade classroom.”

The books were written by Ray D. Ketter and Wynema Smith and illustrated by America Meredith. Cherokee sisters America and Samonia Meredith of Noksi Press donated the first audio books. Audio recordings were produced by Andrew Sikora, director at Cherokee Media and feature the voice of Wynema Smith. The book titles are “The Three Bears,” “The Little Red Hen” and “Origins of Oak Leafs.”
Below:  "Cherokee elder Wynema Smith reads to students at the Cherokee Language Immersion School in Tahlequah, Okla."

February 06, 2012

Inuit develop names for STDs

Group to develop Inuktitut health terms

One of the challenges lies in number of dialectsInuit women are meeting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., this week to develop Inuktitut words for sexual health.

Right now, there are no standard Inuktitut words for diseases such as HIV-Aids, or for infections such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Health care workers have to describe the infections, and the descriptions can differ between Inuktitut dialects.
Below:  "A stop sign in Iqaluit shows both English and Inuktitut. A group of Inuit women are trying to develop Inuktitut words for sexual health issues." (The Canadian Press)