MHASI, Crow Complete Their Institutes

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The MHA and Crow Nations have finished their first Summer Institutes, initiating language education and revitalization programs based on carefully planned K-12 curricula and proven second-language education methods.

The MHASI and CSI took place at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND, in conjunction with the Lakota Summer Institute, a similar education event presented by Sitting Bull, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Lakota Language Consortium.  The Language Conservancy facilitated this co-location, to get the MHASI and CSI started in an atmosphere of dynamic, “can-do” enthusiasm for learning and teaching Native American languages.

Conservancy Executive Director Wil Meya noted that it can get very lonely for severely endangered languages like Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, whose teachers and remaining speakers have done their best to keep the languages preserved and available to the tribes.  This inclusion in a large, positive crowd of teachers and staff at Sitting Bull “was so new, and unlike what they’re used to, they could see right away why it’s so important to come down” to Fort Yates, Meya said.  The opportunity to dive deep into language study and practice was unusual and appreciated, he said.

The Crow and MHA Nations were formally welcomed and acknowledged in the Lakota Summer Institute opening ceremony last Monday, which established an atmosphere of respect and safety, as well as “hope, energy and enthusiasm that is really contagious,” Meya added. Both Nations’ Institutes provided the attending teachers with brand-new Level 1 textbooks that sparked a leap in energy and focus.

MHASI Instructors from Fort Berthold Community College at the MHA Nation were:


Bernadine Young Bird, who heads up Teacher Training at FBCC and is the Co-Director of MHASI; and


Delvin Driver, who teaches Hidatsa at FBCC and Parshall High School in Parshall, ND.


Wayne Fox, who is Vice President of Academics at FBCC, taught Arikara Phonology. Armik Mirzayan came over from the Lakota Summer Institute to teach Arikara Phonology as well. Young linguist Ryan Kasak has made Mandan central to his work, and came to teach Phonology (more on him tomorrow).


Lakota teacher Albino Junior Garcia came to both MHASI and the Crow Summer Institute (CSI) to coach Crow and MHA teachers in Total Physical Response and the use of flashcards with their Level 1 textbooks.  He has taught Special Projects and Teaching Lakota Methods at the Lakota Summer Institute since 2012 and taught Teaching Crow Level 1 in 2013.


Instructor John Boyle also taught in both the CSI and the MHASI, covering Crow Phonology, Hidatsa Phonology and Level 1 Teaching Methods for both languages.


Randolph Graczyk, PhD is a linguist and pastor who assists with the immersion program at St. Charles School in Pryor, MT at the Crow Nation. He taught Crow Phonology at CSI, and is at work on a Crow dictionary and developing the Crow language curriculum.

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