News Story

NSU Hosts Indigenous Language Institute Workshop


Instructors shows workshop participants how to incorporate
technology into language revitalization projects.

TAHLEQUAH – Using innovative and contemporary methods to revitalize the languages of American Indians was the focus of a conference held at Northeastern State University Nov. 16-18.

The NSU Center For Tribal Studies hosted “Ancient Voices-Modern Tools Language and Tech-Knowledge,” the Indigenous Language Institute’s Storytelling with Technology Workshop Series, sponsored by IBM Corporation. Other co-sponsors included the Cherokee Nation and the Oklahoma Native Language Association.

“Participants focused on hands-on lab activities and direct working experiences with the instructors,” said Dr. Phyllis Fife, director of the Center for Tribal Studies. “They were provided with knowledge on working with software on language projects, as well as creating their own language product.”

Educators from American Indian tribes across the country attended the three-day conference, focusing on using technology to develop print, audio and visual materials in native languages for use in teaching and learning environments.

“Indian people have always been quick to put new tools to good use,” said Jerry L. Hill, president of ILI. “Now, we are facing a time when many, if not all, of our languages are in danger of extinction. Even in the strongest Native language communities we see an increasing shift to English.”

ILI works to facilitate innovative, successful community-based language revitalization initiatives through collaboration with communities, organization and individuals, and promotes public awareness of the importance of revitalizing Native languages.

The program brought six instructors from across the country to provide technical training to workshop participants. They included Tonia Williams, the Web manager for the Information Systems department of the Cherokee Nation; Manuela Noske, a software localization engineer in the Windows Group at Microsoft Corporation; Kerry Langford, a software engineer with IBM in Minnesota; Chris Harvey, technology coordinator for ILI; Candace Galla, a researcher studying Native American Linguistics at the University of Arizona in Tucson; and Tom Kauley, the operations manager of the Language Materials Development Center of ILI. Sara Jo Barnett, NSU Center for Tribal Studies, and Dr. Gloria Sly, director of Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center, assisted in facilitating the workshop.

NSU now offers a bachelor’s degree in Cherokee Language Education. A Native Language Revitalization Seminar will be held in April with the 35th Annual Symposium on the American Indian.


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