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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 1, 2003 - Issue 99


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Campers Learn About Their Tribal Language

by Jessica Delos Reyes of the Union-Bulletin

Coyote Chorus LineMISSION - "We're to always teach our children, so they will know our Indian ways."

"Taa minwa na sapskiwata naami miyanishma

Kupa shugwata naami tananawit."

The program opens with this song and images of children in regalia projected onto a screen. Children point at their images and giggle as they snack on pizza and cake. Few are aware they created a tool for future generations to learn the Imatalam (Umatilla) language, one spoken by only about 17 people.

Nine of the original 12 elementary school campers of the Flash Story Camp were honored during a reception Friday at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute. The campers devoted three hours a day, Monday through Thursday this summer to learning their language.

With Flash software, they also produced "Coyote Chef," a program with language games and each camper's rendition of the story of ``Spilyay Kuukithla,' as told to them by instructor Thomas Morning Owl. Spilyay (Coyote) tricks the Squirrel people into cooking themselves for his meal.

Flash is an interactive multimedia program campers used to mix animation and sound.

The program was made possible through a $20,000 grant from First Nations Development in collaboration with Tamastslikt's Language Enhancement Program and Education Department, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The Flash Story Camp was modeled after the elementary school language program by the Tulalip tribe in Marysville, Wash. Students there used technology to learn the Lushootseed language from instructor David Cort. Prior to Tamastslikt's camp, Cort conducted a one-week Flash training for instructors.

"Students of this age are capable of picking up a second language very readily," Cort said in a news release. "It's their nature to understand technology in a heartbeat."

Mildred Quaempts, language coordinator for Tamastslikt and one of the camp instructors, said most of the students had never really been exposed to their native language. She estimated 50 people still speak the three languages of the Confederated Tribes: Imatalam (Umatilla), Walla Walla and Nez Perce, spoken by Cayuse native speakers.

Camp instructor Tessie Williams said the CDs will be distributed to area tribal governments and schools.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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