Dixie Darr

When is an Arapaho not an Arapaho?

In Learning, Learning Tools on April 27, 2017 at 6:53 am

It started when the government established missionary schools, which suppressed the use of Arapaho and spread English.

Television and technology reinforced English as the dominant language, especially in the home, until only a few dozen elderly Arapaho still spoke their native language among 10,000 registered tribal members of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

If you don’t understand the language it’s very difficult to practice our cultural ways, our values, our world views, our political conscience. All derives from the language,” says William C’Hair, chairman of the Arapaho Language and Cultural Commission.

If you’re Arapaho, you should speak the language,” elders told Marlin Spoonhunter who lost his language after decades working as an educator in Montana.

Now, with the help of Andrew Cowell, a linguist at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the the Arapaho Language Project the technology that figured in the decline of the language is helping to sustain it. The Project website directly provides resources audience of all ages, including an online (downloadable) dictionary that includes an English-Arapaho translator as well as links to more than 80,000 lines of Arapaho narratives to illustrate how a given word can be used in a sentence. It also has language lessons, curriculum materials, the Lord’s Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and NFL team names in the Arapaho language.

Sometimes technology giveth what technology taketh away.


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