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CPN Language Department secures language grant

The Citizen Potawatomi Language Department recently received the ANA Language Preservation and Maintenance Grant for a project titled “Nkkendas Ekedyan: I Learn and Speak!” which will allow them to expand the department and make it easier for students to learn the Potawatomi language. CPN will use the grant, worth more than $560,000, to create an online, self-paced language curriculum.

“With the Potawatomi language being at risk of becoming extinct in the next few generations, it’s absolutely one of the most important things we can do as a cultural heritage center and as a cultural resources department to put the time, money and resources into rebuilding our language,” said CPN Director of the Cultural Heritage Center, Dr. Kelli Mosteller.

The grant will be completed in phases during the next three years. Three employees will be hired for the language department in order to create the curriculum and implement the program.

“Grant funding is vital for the CPN Language Department because it helps with the high startup cost and takes the burden off of the Tribe,” said CPN Grant Coordinator for Cultural Resources, Jeremy Arnette. “Once the program proves to be successful, the Tribe will support us into the years after the grant funding has ended.”

The course consists of both auditory and visual components which can be reviewed over and over, allowing individuals to be more comfortable learning the language. Certain milestones and baseline knowledge will be tested by quizzes, and participants can only advance in the program by demonstrating an adequate comprehension of vocabulary and grammar rules that will serve as the foundation for the next level of instruction. Language department staff will offer individual help and encouragement as needed.

“When I first started teaching the language, there weren’t a lot of resources available. Most of the stuff we did, we had to create ourselves. There was very little that was available on the internet. Today, we teach online classes and have an online dictionary with over 5,000 words that includes audio files,” said CPN Language Director, Justin Neely. “The Federal funding we received is exciting news. It’s going to allow us to create some online, self-paced language classes which will make the language more accessible to folks who live anywhere in the country.”

The first phase of this program is curriculum development and will be complete in one year. The online language curriculum will be available to Tribal members during the second year.

For more information please contact the CPN Language department at 405-878-5830 or visit their website at www.potawatomi.org/lang.