Special Edition: CSI 2015 – Week 1 Summary

The opening ceremony of the 3rd annual Crow Summer Institute (CSI) was held on June 22nd!

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Little Big Horn College campus

This year, for the first time, the Institute was held in Crow Country, at Little Big Horn College (see photos below). The beautiful locale attracted many new CSI participants—those interested in sharing ideas and learning new methods for teaching Crow.

Our first week of classes flew by so quickly! Among the classes offered was an introductory Crow Phonology course, taught by Randolph Graczyk, and a Teaching Crow Level 1 Methods course, led by John Boyle and Junior Garcia. For those returning to the institute, we offered a Level 2 track, which included a Teaching Crow Level 2 Methods course (John Boyle & Junior Garcia) as well as a Crow Inflectional Morphology course (Randolph Graczyk).

Little Big Horn College Cultural Center, nestled in a birch tree grove.

Little Big Horn College Cultural Center, nestled in a birch tree grove.

We chatted with some of the participants to see what they thought about CSI 2015 so far, and it sure seems like people are enjoying themselves…

small3Doris Stewart Plainfeather – has been teaching for 30 years! She’s been a teacher at Lodge Grass Public School (Lodge Grass, MT), at Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy (St. Xavier, MT), and at the Immersion Program at Crow Agency, among other schools. But this is Doris’ first time at CSI. We asked her what she thought of the Teaching Crow Level 1 Methods course and she responded, “I like the way he makes us think—Junior—he keeps us on our toes. He put electricity in us!”   Doris put in an application to teach Crow Studies at Little Big Horn College; we’ll keep our fingers crossed for her! (Surely, with the teacher training at CSI under her belt, the college wouldn’t want anyone else for the position!)

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Ivan Small – Ivan has held education-related administration positions all over the state of Montana for about 35 years. When Ivan walked into the Teaching Crow Level 1 Methods course, he thought, “Why the heck are we learning Lakota?” To give you a little context, the Level 1 Methods teachers—John Boyle and Junior Garcia—are teaching the Crow Level 1 textbook by using Lakota as an example. This means that CSI participants are learning a completely new language, just as a student would. Ivan continued, “And then I realized…well, he is teaching us how to teach.”  What made Ivan interested in CSI? He told us, “I’ve always been a wannabe Crow speaker. I understand it decently and have a pretty good idea of writing and reading. But I wanted to know more.”

small5Aldora Big Man – a K-8 teacher at Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy who is attending CSI for the first time. When we asked her what she thought of it so far, she said, “I’m learning something new every day even though I speak the language. And that’s what makes it interesting […] We’re put into the position of the students, so now we understand things from their perspective. We expect students to just know things, and sometimes get frustrated when they don’t. But now I know how they feel.” We also asked Aldora if she plans on coming back, to which she replied, “I think it’s worthwhile to do this for our kids. Not just our students, but our kids and grandkids as well.”

And as if classes weren’t exciting enough, we had even more happenings this week. Michael LeGarde, the producer of Native Report for WDSE/WRPT, stopped by CSI to talk with some of our participants and do a story on Crow language revitalization efforts. Check out this snippet of Tylis BadBear’s interview with Mike at this link.

This week, Crow Agency is also bustling with Native Days celebrations. Check out a full list of events at the Crow Nation News Facebook page (this post in particular).