Special Edition: MHA Summer Institute – Week 1 Summary

collegeJuly 20 marked the first day of our 2nd Annual Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara (MHA) Summer Institute! Last year’s institute was held in conjunction with the Crow and Lakota Summer Institutes in Fort Yates, ND. This year we were excited to be holding the Institute in the heart of MHA Country, in Fort Berthold, ND. We were happy to welcome participants from all over the state to Fort Berthold Community College, gathered to learn about the newest teaching methods for MHA languages!

flagsThe Methods courses focused on the new Level 1 textbook materials. MHA participants acquainted themselves with the book and gave presentations in class based on various thematic units, such as family, clothing, parts of the body, and others. Participants had fun presenting and giving each other feedback about the presentations!

pottery1In the evenings, MHASI attendees participated in various engaging cultural activities, such as braiding corn, drying squash, or making pottery – three activities that are a great part of MHA cultural traditions! corn1Check out the photos!

After such an exciting week, we interviewed a few of our attendees to get an idea of how they felt about the MHA Institute. Take peek at what they shared!

annAnn Solano (Mandan) – Ann is a second-year MHASI participant, and motivated Mandan language-learner. She spent a large part of her life in Fort Yates, ND – where her mother is from, and where she received her degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management. “I was so excited to hear about the language institute last year. I was just praying that we would get something like this in our community out in MHA.” Needless to say, Ann was very happy that the institute was being held in Fort Berthold. When we asked her whether she planned on coming back she said, “Yes, definitely. I’ve always wanted to speak Mandan; it’s a goal I’ve set for myself. I speak other languages too, but I’d rather speak my own.”

bakersistersEthel Baker-Reeves, Helen Baker, and Linda Baker (Hidatsa) – The three Baker sisters are at the Institute for the first time: “Our sister signed us up!” Ethel and Helen laughed, and glanced in Linda’s direction. “But I’m really here,” Helen added, “because my daughter is a teacher and she can teach the language to my grandkids. I wanted to come here to understand the materials”. Growing up together, the Baker sisters understood Hidatsa; their father spoke it, but didn’t want to put his children through what he went through at boarding school. “Most people today don’t really speak the language like they used to”, Ethel remarked. “We started seeing the disappearance of the language around 1950, after everyone was separated when our land was flooded,” added Linda. “They should have made an institute like this years ago,” the sisters noted, “Learning the language this way, with phonology and spelling, is a whole new ballpark”.

floFlorence “Flo” Garrett (Arikara) – Flo is a first time MHASI participant and enthusiastic Arikara language-learner. “I’ve been on a self-taught path for the past few years, ever since I took an introductory Arikara course at Forth Berthold Community College 2 to 3 years ago. But all the learning I’ve done is academic – I never had a relative that could teach Arikara to me.” Flo is passionate, positive and full of energy. “I like the Institute. Everything I learn here I take home to my kids and pass it on.” When we asked her what her favorite part was so far, she said “The key thing I like here is the phonetics and phonology. The way that Armik (Mirzayan) broke down for us where to place the tongue when you speak was amazing! It’s not something we are taught, and not something I can learn from the books. I’ll definitely be coming back next year.”

Stay tuned for the Week 2 Summary of MHASI 2015!

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