The Language Conservancy is proud to announce a new partnership with the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. We are looking forward to working with the tribe to create more support, resources and materials for the HoChunk language through the HoChunk Renaissance program – the official language program of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Many exciting ideas to enhance language learning are in development, such as the creation of the Winnebago tribe’s first language app, a series of language videos and recordings, an organizational website, and other digital learning tools. The initiative will begin this June, with the development of the HoChunk Vocab Builder – a language-learning app for iOS and Android. By utilizing technology, the HoChunk Renaissance program plans to create more accessibility to learning the sacred language for all tribal members, both on and off the reservation.
Although the HoChunk language has been taught at all local educational facilities (including Winnebago Public Schools [K-12], St. Augustine’s Indian Mission [K-8], Educare [Pre-K] and Little Priest Tribal College) the amount of time that the language is taught is not conducive to producing fluent speakers, especially when students return home to non-speaking families.
Lewis “Bleu” St. Cyr was recently named the Program Director for the HoChunk Renaissance Language Program in August 2015. He understands that it takes a tribal community to strengthen a language and with that in mind, he is currently developing a stronger language program by gearing more language instruction back into the tribal community. Along with the language app, St.Cyr hopes to utilize technology in language instruction and gear toward introducing evening classes, which will support language-learning outside of school time. Families can be active in the learning processes; sharing their heritage language will strengthen family bonds. The staff at HoChunk Renaissance will be hosting a strategic planning meeting set for April 14, 2016. The result of this planning will determine the future direction for the program.
We look forward to this joint effort to create a HoChunk language app and partner together in future projects. Language revitalization requires younger generations to become motivated to learn the sacred language of their elders. St. Cyr shared, “In today’s society, technology is growing and changing every day. I feel that we need to utilize these tools to help retain the interest in our younger generation. By working in conjunction with the Language Conservancy on a language app, this opportunity will further expand our digital media and further open these doors to reach out to our youth.”