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Language update: August 2019

Bozho jayek
(Hello everyone),

It’s been a busy summer in the language department. We continue to offer the language in our Child Development Center, both at the west facility and the one by administration. Mrs. Enedina Banks does a great job with the little ones.

We have also started working again with the after-school program, which is now located at The Place. We have a new employee in the language department, Mr. Robert Collins. He has been doing a great job jumping right in and learning the language.

After a successful launch of our new dictionary and app at potawatomidictionary.com, we have seen a consistent number of folks visiting the dictionary, at over 60 a day. The dictionary has more than 8,500 words with over 50 percent having audio files. It also has cultural information on words, scientific names for plants, literal meanings, example sentences and historic audio recordings of many different speakers.

We wrapped up a 10-week language class at the Cultural Heritage Center shortly before Festival. We plan to start a new class sometime in late August or early September. We have been streaming classes regularly throughout the week in our Facebook group, Potawatomi Language (cpn.news/langfb). If you miss a class, it will archive the classes and save them in the videos section.

Speaking of Festival, we had a nice turnout for our annual Potawatomi language bingo games, averaging about a 100 people each session on Friday and Saturday. We also had a nice turnout for our immersion class on Saturday morning and children’s class.

The language department is also involved with the men’s powwow drum group. Every year, we participate in the hand game competition. This year, we had a great crew of guys, including a number of new faces. We had about 12 guys around the drum, and it was awesome. We are going to continue to drum Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m. every week. If you are a Potawatomi man interested in drumming, please come out and join us.

A large group of Potawatomi drummers play through an evening of handgames at the 2019 Family Reunion Festival.

We have had a pleasure of getting to know the 2019 Potawatomi Leadership Program students and working with them on the language three days a week. Language staff also lead lessons every Wednesday for our elders at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Elder Center at around 11:40 a.m. before they serve lunch.

We plan to start back up our youth language choir. We rolled it out last year, but it fizzled out. We are hoping for a stronger showing this year. It will be open to youth age 4 and up. We may make an exception for younger kids, so let us know if you are interested. We will be teaching the kids both traditional songs and contemporary songs.

We assisted District 4’s Jon Boursaw with his youth camp July 26, and then headed to the Potawatomi language conference and the 2019 Potawatomi Gathering. The conference was Monday and Tuesday the week of Gathering. If you have never been, please take an opportunity to attend.

We will be offering the Potawatomi language this fall at two school districts in the high schools for world language credit. We also hope to offer it in the near future at more other districts in Oklahoma. Currently, it can be offered anywhere in the states, but districts are required to send a letter to the Oklahoma Department of Education’s world languages division.

Other projects on the horizon include adding to and enhancing our current dictionary, working with Kaya DeerInWater, our assistant in the community garden, on the Joseph Napoleon Bourassa medicinal journal. This is tedious and involves transcribing the cursive handwriting and analyzing the plants with both Potawatomi and English names. We also plan to work on transcribing and analyzing an 1860’s Potawatomi Bible.

Along with all the upcoming programs, our department also develops and manages a number of online language learning opportunities including beginner I, beginner II and intermediate starter courses online. Simply create a login and wait for a confirmation email to start a course. Then, you must do each lesson before the next section will unlock. We also have two courses at memrise.com, Potawatomi Phrases and A Day in Your Life. Also, be sure to check out the online classes we stream in our Facebook group, Potawatomi Language, at cpn.news/langfb, and we have cultural teachings available under “language and cultural teachings” at potawatomi.org.