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Language program provides learning opportunities for all

Justin Neely teaches students in Wanette, Oklahoma.

Submitted by Justin Neely, CPN Language Department

It’s been a busy month in the language department. We will have started a new eight-week language class from 5:30-7 p.m. central time on Wednesdays at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center, located near Shawnee, Oklahoma. If you are interested but missed the first class, you can still join in. Also, we will be streaming the classes live from the Potawatomi Language Facebook group.

Our four-year-old class from the Child Development Center competed in the 16th annual University of Oklahoma Native American Language Fair. Teachers Enedina Banks and Randy Schlachtun did an awesome job, as did the kids. We are very proud to say they earned second place.

Youth choir

We are also working on establishing a Citizen Potawatomi Nation Youth Choir. It will include youths ages 6-18. If we have enough kids, we will break into two groups: 6-11 and 12-18. We see this as an awesome opportunity to get our kids involved with their Tribe. We will have performances at the annual Festival, Winter Story Telling event, take a group to the OU Language Fair, a winter program and Christmas caroling. We are certain more opportunities will present themselves as we get going, even perhaps the possibility of recording a CD. We will have tryouts May 3 and May 4, and we are asking kids to sing a song or part of a song in English. After that, the choir will be learning and singing songs in the Potawatomi language.

Online learning

We continue to have good participation in our online language course at language.potawatomi.org, our Memrise course at memrise.com called Potawatomi phrases and our children’s page at cpn.news/kidpage. Also, more than 100 children’s videos are available by visiting the “Potawatomi language for kids” tab at youtube.com/c/CPNHownikan.

We are finishing up our first full year of teaching the language through our online high school course. We are currently certified to offer it anywhere in the state of Oklahoma and are looking for schools to partner with. We have reached out to many of the local schools and gotten some interest. Since the course is online, it requires students to have internet access and a teacher or aid who can stay with the students while they work. It will count toward the world language credit. To get it set up for next year, we will have to talk with the Oklahoma Department of Education to add additional schools.

Innovating education

We are working on some ideas and are always interested in new suggestions. We have been talking with a Tribal member about stop-motion animation and exploring the possibility of a video game. We’ve also been working toward a talking, searchable dictionary for easy internet access. We currently have a Lexique Pro dictionary with about 5,500 words and audio files that can be downloaded from cpn.news/dictionary. The only bad deal is it’s not Mac compatible.

Call for artists

Another area we are exploring is children’s books. We are in dire need of talented artists who are interested in doing illustrations for them. If you are such an artist or know of someone, please let us know at jneely@potawatomi.org.