Support Native American Language Education!

Support Native American Language Education!

American Indian Studies Research Institute

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Goal: $10,000

From Indiana University Foundation:

The American Indian Studies Research Institute was founded in 1985 at IU to serve as an interdisciplinary research center for projects focusing on the native peoples of the Americas. Help provide support today!

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Help support the work of the American Indian Studies Research Institute and ensure that our critical language projects continue to help with Indian language education. Currently, AISRI is collaborating with the Nakoda or Assiniboine communities of Fort Peck and Fort Belknap in Montana to revitalize the Nakoda language. While there are few fluent speakers in the community we are developing an innovative language project based on traditional stories to create effective and engaging language materials. 

Since 1985 scholars and students at AISRI have worked with elders to document, preserve and teach Arikara, Pawneee, Nakoda, Lakota, Mandan and Hidatsa. From online dictionaries to mobile language apps AISRI has been in the forefront of using technology to make materials from the past accessible in the present so a new generation can benefit from the knowledge of their elders.

A member of the Lakota Language Project, AISRI developed the first comprehensive K-12 Lakota textbook curriculum in partnership with Red Cloud Indian School (RCIS), a private school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, from 2008-2014.  

AISRI and RCIS staff, along with language teachers and community members, designed a curriculum to guide students in speaking, reading, and writing Lakota, as well as to gain basic fluency in the Lakota language.  Beautifully illustrated by Lakota artist, Cecil Apple, all RCIS students receive lessons in the Lakota language every single day; we have built--and continue to strengthen--a curriculum of 13 levels to serve all students in grades K-12.  Moreover, this curriculum is aligned with educational objectives across RCIS, and our students are engaged in a variety of activities to ensure they are being supported outside of the classroom.  The project strives to create language proficiency in all students by the time of graduation and to cultivate a deep appreciation and understanding of Lakota values, history and traditions.   

This project is a contribution to the Lakota language community, and is a way of adding to the many efforts of language revitalization and sustainability that exist on the community and university levels.  Now in the second phase of its development, the project not only continues to support language instruction at every grade level, but it also serves to help integrate the language across all content areas at RCIS and in the community, while continuing to provide teacher training and support.  By creating supplemental curricular materials, multimedia tools, extracurricular activities, parent nights, and language camps, RCIS is ensuring that students, parents, and community are engaging with the language on a daily basis.

AISRI was approached by Nakoda language teachers to explore the feasibility of building upon the success of the RCIS Lakota Language curriculum to partner together to develop a comprehensive K-12 curriculum for Nakoda school children. AISRI scholars have worked with elders in these communities and we soon realized that our collections of narratives and stories could be used to provide the foundation of the curriculum. Our project is truly innovative in being able to incorporate the actual voices of the elders into our new language materials. Collaborating with the community and incorporating Native Voices is a key feature of our work. 

Your contributions will enable us to continue our projects, such as these, and create more language materials. We deeply appreciate your generosity as we move forward this year. Please help us to sustain and improve this valuable long-term collaboration. 

For more information please visit our IU Day web site at www.indiana.edu/~aisri/iuday/

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Gifts will be administered by the Indiana University Foundation, which represents Indiana University, including the IU School of Medicine. This is not a gift to Indiana University Health, and the Indiana University Health Foundation will not play a role in administering these accounts.