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Language Update: October 2019

By Justin Neely, CPN Language Director

We have a few new additions in the language department. These include the expansion of our East Child Development Center and West Child Development Center classes as well as additional kids in the afterschool program. Additionally, more Oklahoma high schools now offering Potawatomi for language credit made it necessary to hire a couple of new employees.

We have added Ragan Marsee, a Tribal member and descendant of the Higbee family and Shelby Hobia, a Tribal member and descendant of the Curley family. We also added Robert Collins, a member of the DeLonais family, as a replacement for a staff member we lost. We appreciate these new staff members and their hard work. They have already jumped in feet first and are working hard to learn our language, so they can assist with the teaching of the language.

This school year, we have expanded our online high school course. Currently, it is available anywhere in the state of Oklahoma for world language credit, which counts toward graduation. We have taught the course the last two years in Wanette, Oklahoma. We also offered a variation of the course at St. Gregory’s University until its unfortunate closure. This year, we have added Tecumseh High School and are working also with Shawnee Public Schools to add the course. If you have a student who goes to school in Oklahoma, let your administration know this is available at no cost to the district. The district just needs a place the kids can get on the internet, a teacher who can sit with the kids and contact with us to help them set it up. My email address is jneely@potawatomi.org.

Our new, online searchable dictionary is up and running. We are constantly updating and making improvements to the dictionary. It has over 8,500 words with about 4,000 sound files. We have been working on adding scientific terms to the various plants as well as other audio files, new content and images. It’s a big project, and we appreciate the Nation’s IT programmers who built the program from scratch. It’s quite an awesome tool.

Speaking of awesome tools, if you haven’t tried one of our various options for learning the Potawatomi language online, you are really missing out. We have three different courses on memrise.com. We have an online course at language.potawatomi.org, and we also have two different YouTube channels. We also have a Facebook group, Potawatomi Language, with about 3,600 folks on it where we also share materials and videos as well as host live classes.

New on-sight classes are starting Oct. 3rd at the Cultural Heritage Center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday.

Remember to use what you learn.

For some fun phrases to use and to hear the following words, visit potawatomidictionary.com.

  • Nasena! (Nah suh nah) — Be careful!
  • Dokem! (Doe kum) — Be quiet!
  • Nizanzet. (Nee zan zit) — It’s dangerous.
  • Nekshe ibe. (Nuck shay ee buh) — Look over there.
  • Kyenep! (Kay nup) — Hurry!
  • Dokin! (Doe keen) — Wake up!
  • Dokeek! (Doe keek) — Everyone wake up!
  • Wisnen. (Wees nin) — Eat.
  • Wisnek. (Wees nuck) — Everyone eat.
  • Dadokmeben. (Dah doke muh bin) — Behave.
  • Dadokmebek. (Dah doke muh buck) — Everyone behave.
  • Ni je ezhewebek? (Nee juh ezh eh way buck) — What happened?
  • Nishokmeshen. (Neesh oke meh shin) — Help me.
  • Mishen I. (Mee shin ee) — Give me that.
  • Migwetch. (Mee gwehch) — Thanks.
  • Igwien. (Eeg wee in) — Thanks (heartfelt).
  • Byan shode. (Bee yawn show duh) — Come here.
  • Byak shode. (Bee yahk show duh) — Everyone come here.
  • Wijeweshen. (Wee juh way shin) — Come with me.