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June 5-23 • Little Big Horn College
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Lakota Summer Institute  (North Dakota)
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May 1, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

More Photos available for download: https://goo.gl/1hXt9J

Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico Launches Project to Save Language
Fluent speakers of Acoma Keres language gather to record voices for dictionary and more

Sky City, New Mexico — Nearly two dozen of the approximately 100 last remaining speakers of the Acoma Keres language have answered the call for a new project designed to restore the language for generations to come.

They’ve come together to record their voices for the Acoma Dictionary Workshop, May 1-12 at the Acoma Learning Center. Participants receive a daily stipend of $100, plus lunch and transportation.

IMG_6181.JPG 2It’s the first phase of a multi-year Acoma Language Recovery Plan, organized by the Pueblo of Acoma Department of Education, in partnership with The Language Conservancy, leaders in the fight to revitalize Native American languages.

“Acoma retains a rich and vibrant culture dating back more than 1200 years,” said Stanley Holder, executive director of the Department of Education. “But the tribal membership realized we were rapidly losing the language. We had to take a more systematic approach to language preservation and revitalization, which The Language Conservancy provides.”

Beyond the Dictionary, the Language Recovery Plan aims to develop curriculum, instruction, electronic media and certification of teachers to teach the language in area schools in all grades.

Acoma Dictionary Workshop continues through May 12 (9 am- 4:15 pm) at the Acoma Learning Center (17A Knots Landing).

The Pueblo of Acoma Department of Education was established in 2007 by the Acoma Tribal Council to develop quality educational services for the people of Acoma Pueblo.

The Language Conservancy (TLC) is a nonprofit organization leading the revitalization of Native American languages by developing leading-edge programs and materials (from dictionaries to mobile apps) in partnership with tribes, and by advocating for endangered languages.

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CONTACT:

Mitchell Teplitsky
Communications Director
The Language Conservancy
mitch@languageconservancy.org
(802) 961-6360

Melayna Ortiz
Board Secretary
Pueblo of Acoma Department of Education
melortiz7@gmail.com
(505) 850-8643

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.

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 at 812-961-6360 or events@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.