In January 2016, The Language Conservancy began working with the Fort Peck Tribes’ Language & Culture Department to develop apps for learning Nakoda (Assiniboine) and Yanktonai Dakota languages.

Last week, the apps (for iOS and Android) were delivered.
And in 5 days, already downloaded  800+ times! 

Some early reviews:

“Awesome!”
“Perfect, love it!”
“I am STOKED!”
“Hókahe! Oyáte, Dakȟótia po!”

TLC linguist Elliot Bannister traveled to Fort Peck to formally present the apps to the Tribal Council and the community at large. Elliot also led workshops in spelling and vocabulary, and did additional recordings with native speakers.

The Vocab Builders are smart flashcard apps that enable learners of Nakoda and Yanktonai Dakota to practice vocabulary and pronunciation in culturally-relevant categories.

The apps are just one piece of Fort Peck’s commitment to revitalize Nakoda and Dakota. Both are part of the Siouan language family and closely related to Lakota. According to Fort Peck community members, there are approximately 35 Dakota and 25 Assiniboine first-language speakers in the community.

Download the apps here:

Yanktonai Dakota Vocab Buildervocab builder app image
iOS |  Android

Nakoda Vocab Builder
iOS |  Android

 

The Language Conservancy would like to introduce several new faces that have joined the staff in recent months, a group that includes a linguist, a designer, special events coordinator and a communications specialist.

Edwin Ko joined TLC in September after earning an M.S. in Linguistics from Georgetown University with research interests in indigenous languages of North America. He is currently working on a number of Hidatsa and Crow language projects, including development of a talking dictionary and a beginner’s conversational audio course.

Allison Horner is a designer, artist and illustrator who received a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design who joined TLC in October. Her work can be seen in TLC materials ranging from brochures, newsletters, textbooks and picture books.

Zac Moilanen joined TLC in November as its events coordinator. He holds a Master of International Business from Hult International Business School, Boston, and has worked in Shanghai as an urban development analyst and business development consultant.

omaha-nation-public-schoolsNebraska’s Omaha to develop textbook

After struggling for some time to create teaching materials aimed at growing the number of users of the Omaha language, the Umóⁿhoⁿ (Omaha) Nation Public School, the Walthill Public School and the Omaha Tribal Education Department in Nebraska now have an important language revitalization tool in the works.

Now underway in Macy, Neb., the project will lead to the creation of an introductory level textbook and accompanying audio CD that will be distributed for free to the participating Omaha reservation schools. A teacher training course will be held and language pre-tests and post-tests for students will be developed and conducted.

“With textbooks and audio CDs created in part from interviews and recordings with the tribe’s remaining Elders we will have additional resources to teach, grow and increase daily use of our Omaha language,” said Vida Stabler, director of the Umóⁿhon (Omaha) Nation Public School Indian Education Program. “We’re trying to rescue far more than our endangered language, but our unique culture which also is a significant piece of American history and culture.”

The work between TLC and the Omaha Tribe is being facilitated by a $100,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

TLC staff have been traveling the nation in support of indigenous language revitalization, attending conferences, conventions, public engagements and trade shows from the Southwest to the East Coast.

On Sept. 30, over 200 people attended an event titled Standing Rock: More than a Pipeline, held at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, VA. It included a Skype-in Q&A session with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Lakota Language Specialist Alayna Eagle Shield, a demonstration of the Plains Indian flute by Kevin Locke of Standing Rock, and a screening of Rising Voices, followed by a Q&A with Jack Martin, Director of Linguistics at William & Mary, and our own executive director, Wil Meya.

October has been a busy month in the world of Indian education and language revitalization, and TLC has been sharing our insights and experiences all over the country:

  • American Indian Intertribal Powwow at Jamestown Settlement, VA (the site of the first European settlement in North America)
  • National Indian Education Association’s 47th annual convention and trade show in Reno, NV
  • National Congress of American Indians’ 73rd annual convention and marketplace in Phoenix, AZ
  • Association of  Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums’ 9th annual conference in Phoenix, AZ
  • Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition’s 6th international conference in Minneapolis, MN
Winnebago elders Herman Brown Jr. (top) and Warner Earth (bottom) participated in the HoChunk Vocab Builder app release party, playing games and teaching the language.

Winnebago elders Herman Brown Jr. (top, right) and Warner Earth (bottom, right) participated in the HoChunk Vocab Builder app release party, playing games and teaching the language.

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska in November launched the HoChunk Vocab Builder, a new language vocabulary app for both Android and iOS devices that has already been downloaded nearly 400 times. The free app includes 40 categories of HoChunk words and phrases, complete with audio, as well as and HoChunk-to-English and English-to-HoChunk word match quizzes.

The app was released with fanfare at a launch event at the Blackhawk Community Center in downtown Winnebago. Guests learned how to download and use the app,  played language learning games, enjoyed a community feed and took snaps in a selfie photo booth.

“The Winnebago are seeing that the use of digital tools can be used to enhance our revitalization efforts,” said Lewis “Bleu” St. Cyr, director of the Winnebago Tribe’s HoChunk Renaissance Program. “Our staff here at the Renaissance Program are creative, innovative individuals and their contributions and ideas are helping retain and grow the tribal community’s interest in the HoChunk language.”

Language Signage Goes Up At MHA Nations

This was the first of three new billboards in the New Town, N.D., area that are now promoting the availability of free MHA language programs.

This was the first of three new billboards in the New Town, N.D., area that are now promoting the availability of free MHA language programs.

Three new billboards went up in and around New Town as reminders to the MHA community to maintain a collective voice in supporting language and cultural revitalization in the community. The brainchild of Martha BirdBear, the billboards encourage community members to participate in the MHA Language Project. Residents can always learn more Mandanlanguage.org, Hidatsa.org, Arikara.org, or on Facebook at @mandanlanguage, @hidatsalanguage, and @arikaralanguage.

One way to take part in that cultural revitalization is to take advantage of the free language learning materials available at six different locations in New Town, Parshall, Bismarck and White Shield. Check out the kiosks for Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara learning materials: The exact locations are: 1.) Northern Lights Building in New Town; 2.) MHA Tribal Administration Building in New Town; 3.) Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town; 4.) MHA Segment Office in Parshall; 5.) MHA Satellite Office in Bismarck; and the Arikara Cultural Center in White Shield.

Thanks To All We Met at Little Shell, Four Bears

The Language Conservancy had a presence at both the Aug. 11-14 Little Shell Celebration and the Nov. 3-6 Four Bears Powwow in New Town, distributing MHA language materials, sharing news about upcoming projects and spending time with MHA language warriors like White Shield School’s Wayne Fox and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College instructor Valerian Three Irons.

Hidatsa speakers Mary Gachupin, left, and her sister, Martha Birdbear, review materials being used for the Hidatsa Level 3 textbook.

Hidatsa speakers Mary Gachupin, left, and her sister, Martha Birdbear, review materials being used for the Hidatsa Level 3 textbook.

After several visits to the recording and editing studios of The Language Conservancy from Hidatsa speakers D.J. Driver Jr., Martha BirdBear and Mary Gachupin, we’re now extremely excited to announce that the final review copy of the long-awaited Level 3 Hidatsa textbook is in-hand, and we’re just weeks away from an expected public release date sometime around mid-January. None of this would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of D.J., Martha, Mary and D.J.’s father, Delvin Driver Sr.

Expected to closely follow release of the new Level 3 textbook will be a planned summer release of its audio companion, followed by release later in the year of a new Level 2 vocabulary app for iOS and Android smart phones that is currently in development.

 

D.J. Driver Jr. shown here working on Hidatsa audio recordings in the TLC sound studio.

D.J. Driver Jr. shown here working on Hidatsa audio recordings in the TLC sound studio.

All Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara speakers are invited to attend a three-day session in New Town focusing on a review of Level 1-3 textbooks and materials and strategic planning for future materials, language learning directions and the June 12-20 MHA Summer Institute.

Speakers attending the session will receive an attendance stipend; for more information contact TLC events coordinator Zac Moilanen at 812-961-6360 or zac@languageconservancy.org. Your input and involvement is important to the future of MHA language learning programs so

please join us during these three days at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town.

This will also be one of the first opportunities for the community, from teachers to speakers, to review, discuss and develop teaching methods for the new Level 3 Hidatsa textbook, and to get a look at the first three issues in a new series of Hidatsa language children’s picture books: Arumaaréeshi Nagíradaʔ (Do You Like To Dance?), Madasháagahge (My Little Frog), and, Íixoka Imaxixi Ggíigaac (The Fox Who Saw His Own Shadow).

Sponsored by NHS College, the MHA Language Project, MHA Dept. of Education and The Language Conservancy, the MHA Review and Strategic Planning Session will include participation from Wil Meya, staff linguist Edwin Ko and publications specialist Bob Rugh. In photo at right, Hidatsa speaker D. J. Driver at work making language recordings in the TLC sound studio.

The sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, contact Bernadine Young Bird at byoung@nhsc.edu, or call 701-627-4738, ext. 291, or 701-421-1696.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 9, 2016

WINNEBAGO, Neb. – The endangered HoChunk language of Nebraska’s Winnebago tribe will tomorrow take a technological step toward resiliency and revival with the release of the HoChunk Vocab Builder, a new language vocabulary app for both Android and iOS devices.

The free app, which includes 40 categories of HoChunk words and phrases, will officially be released tomorrow during a launch party at the Blackhawk Community Center in downtown Winnebago, said Lewis “Bleu” St. Cyr, director of the Winnebago Tribe’s HoChunk Renaissance Program.

“The Winnebago are seeing that the use of digital tools can be used to enhance our revitalization efforts,” St. Cyr said. “Our staff here at the Renaissance Program are creative, innovative individuals and their contributions and ideas are helping retain and grow the tribal community’s interest in the HoChunk language.”hochunk-vocab-app-feature

In addition to the HoChunk vocabulary app, which was developed with the assistance of the Native American language rescue non-profit The Language Conservancy, the Winnebago have also been utilizing tools like Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and virtual gaming to facilitate HoChunk language revitalization, St. Cyr added.

“We are also restructuring our language curriculum at various levels, from pre-school and elementary to high school and college-level, in addition to preparing to act as hosts for structured community courses within the next year,” St. Cyr said.

The app contains over 400 words and phrases with audio pronunciation and visual aids for each; HoChunk-to-English and English-to-HoChunk word match quizzes; proficiency tracking; and a points-based level-to-level achievement program that uses repetition as a learning strategy. Four fluent HoChunk speakers of the Winnebago tribe assisted with development of the content used in the app.

HoChunk Renaissance project manager Michelle Lamere said the app launch event at the Blackhawk Community Center would run from 3-7 p.m. and that visitors would be able to receive help downloading the app and with assistance using it. Expect a festive environment, as gift bags and t-shirts will be given away, there will be face-painting and a balloon-twisting artist, along with games and food.

“We’re looking forward to having a fun and successful launch,” Lamere said.

The app is available at both the Google Play store and at Apple’s iTunes store by searching for HoChunk Vocab Builder.

Wil Meya, executive director of the The Language Conservancy, said the new HoChunk app was designed for versatility and ease of use. The non-profit so far has developed language apps in both Android and iOS formats for the Arikara, Crow, Hidatsa, Lakota and Mandan, and apps are currently in design for the Assiniboine, Omaha and Yanktonai Dakota tribes.

“This is a culturally-relevant learning tool that you can use on your own, in coordination with a language learning class or as a learning tool for use by parents, caregivers and teachers,” Meya said.

The United Nations estimates that of the world’s 6,000 different languages, over 40 percent – about 2,571 – are endangered, including 191 in the United States.

HoChunk Renaissance is a language and culture program of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska that  provides accessible language-learning tools and resources – textbooks, apps, dictionaries and more – to help preserve HoChunk. Twitter: @hochunklanguage.

The Language Conservancy (TLC) is a nonprofit organization based in Bloomington, Ind., that is leading the revitalization of endangered Native American languages across the U.S. by providing critical support to tribal education departments, schools, and by increasing public awareness on the crisis of disappearing languages. Twitter: @LangConservancy

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 2, 2016

CONTACT:

Wil Meya, Executive Director, The Language Conservancy

meya@languageconservancy.org, 202-640-2280

MACY, Neb. — Facing eminent extinction with only an estimated 12 fluent speakers, the native language of the Omaha tribe will be the focus of a revitalization effort centered within the tribe’s public schools. The project, developed by The Language Conservancy and supported by a $100,000 W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant, will develop a pre-K through high school language education program in Nebraska with the Umóⁿhoⁿ (Omaha) Nation Public School, the Walthill Public School and the Omaha Tribal Education Department.

Only about 150 people speak or understand parts of the language and elders and teachers associated with the Omaha tribe said the remaining fluent speakers are all over 70 years old, according to Wil Meya, executive director of The Language Conservancy.

“Thanks to the support of the Kellogg Foundation we have the unique opportunity to begin a program of recovery and revitalization of a native language that is on the precipice of extinction,” Meya said. “When we lose a language we lose culture, history, knowledge and a unique way of looking at the world.”omaha_l1_cover-1_page_1-sjc

The project will lead to the creation of an introductory level textbook and accompanying audio CD that will be distributed for free to the participating Omaha reservation schools. A teacher training course will be conducted and language pre-tests and post-tests for students will also be developed and conducted.

“Tribal members and educational institutions of the Omaha tribe have been struggling to create teaching materials to aid in the resurgence of our language, said Vida Stabler, director of the Umóⁿhon (Omaha) Nation Public School Indian Education Program. The tribe is based in Macy, Neb., and has over 7,000 members nationally.

“With textbooks and audio CDs created in part from interviews and recordings with the tribe’s remaining Elders we will have additional resources to teach, grow and increase daily use of our Omaha language,” Stabler said. “We’re trying to rescue far more than our endangered language, but our unique culture which also is a significant piece of American history and culture.”

The project design created a partnership with the Indian Education Department at Omaha Nation Public School and will partner with the Nebraska Indian Community College for future training events.

The United Nations estimates that of the world’s 6,000 different languages, over 40 percent – about 2,571 – are endangered, including 191 in the United States.

The Language Conservancy (TLC) is a nonprofit organization based in Bloomington, Ind., that is leading the revitalization of endangered Native American languages across the U.S. by providing critical support to tribal education departments, schools, and by increasing public awareness on the crisis of disappearing languages. @LangConservancy