By Justin Neely, Director of the CPN Language Department
We had our best attendance ever for our annual Winter Storytelling event on Feb. 26, with more than 100 people in person and close to 700 watching online from across the country. I would first like to acknowledge that my staff did an awesome job with this. The presentations were well received and were done in a variety of mediums. We had some videos, some acted out live and some were done with PowerPoint. My extremely talented staff also did the original artwork.
I hope folks are still aware that there are a number of language learning opportunities for those who live local and afar. We have a number of self-paced classes available. We have Beginner I, Beginner II and Intermediate Moodle courses at language.potawatomi.org. We also have three different courses on memrise.com. In order to find the Potawatomi courses, it’s easier to go to the site on a computer first, then try on your phone.
We have two YouTube pages: one geared toward kids with about 130 videos and another more geared to adult learners with about 80 videos. Both can be found by searching for “Justin Neely” and “Potawatomi language.”
We are working on a kids’ puppet show called Mtek Wigwam. It’s about a group of friends who decide to build a treehouse and the misadventures they have along the way. The idea behind the show is to introduce young kids to the language, a word or two at a time, with the English supplementing the learning. After they have heard the Potawatomi word a few times, the video stops using it in English. As the show progresses, we hope to have the show mostly in Potawatomi.
We have also been working on putting a number of public domain films into Potawatomi. We are currently finishing up the 1939 cartoon version of Gulliver’s Travels. Next we plan on tackling a couple of different Popeye the Sailor cartoons. We also have done a number of songs in Potawatomi such as Imagine by John Lennon, What Does the Fox Say and others. The idea is that our children need material to watch and sing along with in our language that will stay with them.
The Potawatomi language course is now available online for any school district to pick up. We have offered the course for the last three years in Wanette High School. This last semester, we offered if for the first time at Tecumseh High School. We will begin offering it this fall at Shawnee High School. The course counts toward the required world language credit Oklahoma students need for graduation.
We are also continuing work on our online dictionary at potawatomidictionary.com. We currently have about 9,500 words. We are working each day, adding audio files and example sentences as well as video links on many of the sources. This project was developed in-house in collaboration with our IT department and a staff member there, Jonathon Cervone. We appreciate their hard work in helping get this exciting project going. There are a lot of neat features such as historical audio clips from various speakers, a cultural context button on many words where we can tell more detailed cultural information about certain words and concepts, and a video link on words like pegna, a flat, Potawatomi corn bread, which shows how to prepare the dish.