Category Archives: Language

Cherokee: “From Leaves to Pixels”

“For generations, the Cherokee Nation has turned to tech to preserve its language with innovative efforts that have come via the Cherokee Phoenix, iPhone and Facebook.”-Art Coulson, Native People Magazine

Discussion Questions for this post

Talking Leaves to Pixels by artist Roy Boney-Native Peoples Magazine.

Talking Leaves to Pixels by artist Roy Boney-Native Peoples Magazine.

Excerpt: Cherokees Keep Up With the Latest in Tech…By Art Coulson, Native Peoples Magazine

“When my daughters and I swap emails on our phones, my messages end with the standard Apple iPhone signature, “Sent from my iPhone.” The version of the signature on my phone however: ᏂᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏌᎹᏗ ᏗᏟᏃᎮᏗ.

It looks a bit different from the default signature installed by Apple because it’s in Cherokee, one of more than 50 languages—and the first Native American one—installed on the iPhone out of the box.

The Cherokee syllabary syllabary was invented by Sequoyah. Photo- Wikipedia

The Cherokee syllabary syllabary was invented by Sequoyah. Photo- Wikipedia

The syllabary, now two centuries old, was the first written version of a Native American language developed by one man—Cherokee blacksmith Sequoyah—and since his creation of the written system, there have been a series of additional firsts for the language-like first Native American language to be printed in a bilingual newspaper, the first to be integrated into iPhones and iPads, and the first to be an option in Google’s search engine. 

The most recent project of the Language Program was to work with the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative to convert the 86 symbols of the syllabary into the raised dots of the Braille language for the blind and visually impaired.

A computer keyboard incorporates the Cherokee syllabary. By Rolando Coto

A computer keyboard incorporates the Cherokee syllabary. By Rolando Coto

“We provided copies of our Cherokee syllabary, sample text and other items to be able to make Braille in Cherokee a reality,” Boney says. “We want to stay in the forefront by offering the Cherokee language on as many written tools as possible to preserve and protect our Native tongue.”

“Language is the archives of history” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~ (1803-1820)

Discussion Questions for this post
  1. On which mobile device is Cherokee now installed?
  2. How old is the Cherokee syllabary?
  3. Who was Sequoyah?
  4. Who was Ayoka?
  5. What is Braille language?

 

Category: Language

Erika Larsen: The Native Words for “Horse”

O’siyo. Photographer Erika Larsen traveled for two years to various Native communities in the U.S. to learn the significance of the horse in Native American culture. Her findings and beautiful photographs were featured in the March 2014 issue of National Geographic. 

Destiny Buck, of the Wanapum tribe, rides her mare, Daisy, Pendleton, Oregon. Photograph by Erika Larsen.

Destiny Buck, of the Wanapum tribe, rides her mare, Daisy, Pendleton, Oregon. Photograph by Erika Larsen.

 

Excerpt: Erika Larsen: In Search of a Horse, National Geographic

“I arrived to Lapwai on the Nez Perce land where I met a woman named Rosa. She told me that I was looking for Sikem, and that the young Nez Perce generation could help me find him. So I asked a young Numipu named Olivia if she knew Sikem and she said yes. She said she had known him since she was seven and that she was free when she was with him and she felt like she could do whatever she wanted. He was her therapy. She had a portrait of Sikem on her shoulder saying ‘Live to Ride.’

Benson Ramone accompanies his 17-year-old daughter, Tashina, who’s competing in the Fort Hall Rodeo on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes reservation in Idaho. Photo by Erika Larsen.

Benson Ramone accompanies his 17-year-old daughter, Tashina, who’s competing in the Fort Hall Rodeo on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes reservation in Idaho. Photo by Erika Larsen.

Not too far away in the Yakama Nation I met Patricia. She told me I was looking for Kusi, her treasured friend. She said don’t let him fool you, he is a gentle giant, that has the tendency to be wild yet gentle and tame. She showed me a bag that her mother had beaded with Kusi on it.

Jones Benally received this gelding, Moonwalker, on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, for his services as a medicine man. Navajos believe lightning is the spark of all creation. Photo by Erika Larsen.

Jones Benally received this gelding, Moonwalker, on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, for his services as a medicine man. Navajos believe lightning is the spark of all creation. Photo by Erika Larsen.

I traveled further south and met Benson on the Navajo Nation. He told me I was searching for łįį’. He said he hoped that I could pronounce it or that he might be hard to find. He told me when his time on earth was over łįį’ would be his ride to the spirit world.

On my way north, I stopped in Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Nation where I met a man named Phillip. He told me Mo en ha, was who I must be looking for, The Beautiful, Holy Spirit.

On the Crow Reservation in southern Montana, Michelle Walking Bear braids her 11-year-old son’s hair to keep it out of his face when he rides. Photo by Erika Larsen.

On the Crow Reservation in southern Montana, Michelle Walking Bear braids her 11-year-old son’s hair to keep it out of his face when he rides. Photo by Erika Larsen.

Across the way, in Crow Agency, I heard the name, Iichiili, and so I inquired about him. I met a family that lived with Iichiili and they said if I looked far into the distance and as close as front door I could see Iichiili everywhere; that he had always been there.

Nakia Williamson rides a cross between an Appaloosa and the hardy Akhal-Teke from Turkmenistan, one of the world’s oldest breeds, renowned for courage and endurance. Photograph by Erika Larsen.

Nakia Williamson rides a cross between an Appaloosa and the hardy Akhal-Teke from Turkmenistan, one of the world’s oldest breeds, renowned for courage and endurance. Photograph by Erika Larsen.

Finally, on my travels east I met a woman from the Lakota nation named Sung Agli Win-She Brings Back the Horses. She told me I was looking for Sunka Wakan. Her father had told her when the spirits brought them the gift of the Sunka Wakan, they found that it was four-legged and with a coat like wolves and dogs, but with special powers.”

A paint horse named Cikala, which means “Little” in Lakota. Photo by Erika Larsen.

A paint horse named Cikala, which means “Little” in Lakota. Photo by Erika Larsen.

“…when the spirits brought them the gift of the Sunka Wakan, they found that it was four-legged and with a coat like wolves and dogs, but with special powers. It was hard to translate but maybe it was like large four-legged being with spiritual powers…Sunka Wakan living harmoniously in spirit like all of nature and that our connection with him was a gift from Creator, for which we are grateful…we are tied together, us and Sunka Wakan. Like the buffalo, they reflect us and link us back into the sacred rhythm and balance of nature. Any given child or person spending time with Sunka Wakan may find the effect hard to describe because they are being touched at a deeper level.”

~ Sung Agli Win-She Brings Back the Horses~ The Lakota Nation

Be sure to visit Erika’s site to view more of her beautiful photos.

Category: Language

Native Term “Two Spirit” is Added to Facebook!

O’siyo. Facebook has extended its gender identifying terms beyond “male and female” adding more than 45 gender-identifying words. More importantly, the Native term “Two Spirit” was among the new additions. Native communities are happy about the changes. Click on the photos below to learn more about the various Native Two Spirit communities. By the way, the beaded shoes were just too gorgeous to pass up!

BAAITS 3rd Annual Two-Spirit Powwow. Facebook.

BAAITS (Bay Area American Indians Two-Spirits) 3rd Annual Two-Spirit Powwow. Facebook.

Excerpt:

Facebook’s ‘Two Spirit’ Gender-ID Term…By Sheena L. Roetman,ICTNM

“On February 13, Facebook added more than 45 custom gender-identifying terms, allowing users to choose from more than just “male” or “female” in order to identify themselves. Indigenous communities all over Turtle Island were pleasantly surprised to find that among those terms was Two-Spirit.

Portland Native Two Spirit Society. Facebook.

Portland Native Two Spirit Society. Facebook.

When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self, Facebook’s press office said in a statement to ICTMN… Additionally, Facebook has added the ability to select a preferred pronoun – male, female or neutral (they/their/them) – as well as allowing people to specify who sees the gender and pronoun they’ve chosen.

Alray Nelson, (Navajo) at Ganado High School, awarded certificates to teachers he trained to aid bullied LGBT youths. M. Hayoun:Al Jazeera.

Alray Nelson, (Navajo) at Ganado High School, awarded certificates to teachers he trained to aid bullied LGBT youths. M. Hayoun:Al Jazeera.

We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way,Facebook said. Many Indigenous people who identify as Two Spirit were excited to see the changes.

A  happy couple soon to be married, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe located in Concho OK.The Guardian.

A happy couple soon to be married, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe located in Concho OK.The Guardian.

BEAUTIFUL-A Short History of Native American Beadwork. Facebook.

TOO BEAUTIFUL-A Short History of Native American Beadwork. Facebook.

When Facebook added new gender options, I felt that it was an amazing step, one that was in the right direction,” said Gina Metallic, of Mig’maq First Nation, a Two Spirit community and Aboriginal youth protection activist.” Read more…

Kudos to all of the wonderful Two Spirit organizations and beautiful people who support LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) communities.  Also to Facebook for adding the term Two Spirit!

“Historians say gay and lesbian Two-Spirits have existed in nearly every aboriginal culture, including virtually all North American aboriginal tribes. Two-Spirits were the trendsetters, the songwriters, the vanguard ambassadors to other cultures. Because they were considered to have a spiritual “foot in two worlds,” Two-Spirits presided over conflict resolutions, acted as couples’ counselors, and were prized as the best of shamans.”
~John Dooley~

Category: Language

Hopi Workshop: Keeping Their Language Alive!

O’siyo. The Hopi Wellness Center is hosting a workshop on June 18, 2013, for 50 fluent Hopi speakers including parents and teachers.  The participants will reach out to the communities and spread their knowledge of the Hopi language and culture to other members, especially to Hopi children.

Hopi children. Photo website Restoration.

Hopi children. Photo website Restoration.

Excerpt: Mesa Media hosts Hopi Language Workshop June 18, 2013, Navajo-Hopi Observer

“Mesa Media Inc. will play host to an instructors workshop at the Hopi Wellness Center in Kykotsmovi June 18, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for 50 fluent Hopi speakers, parents and teachers. The workshop will give participants five basic activities that they can use to teach younger generations in an effort to get more kids speaking Hopi.

Clara Dallas speaks Hopi as she teaches the names of Hopi food and ingredients at a recent workshop. Photo:Kristin Harned.

Clara Dallas speaks Hopi as she teaches the names of Hopi food and ingredients at a recent workshop. Photo:Kristin Harned.

They are trying to mobilize people in communities and get them a little bit of the skills and jump start their creativity, because they are fluent speakers, and have them go out to the communities… The workshop will focus on teaching agricultural vocabulary, sentence structure and songs.

Anita Poleahla, Mesa Media’s President and Founder.

Anita Poleahla, Mesa Media’s President and Founder.

Mesa Media is a grassroots non-profit based out of Polacca, Ariz. founded by Anita Poleahla and the late Ferrell Secakuku. The organization’s mission is to keep the Hopi language vital and alive through media using song and audio and video recordings.

 

Ferrell Secakuku  (1937-2007) (Mesa Media’s  Co-founder.

Ferrell Secakuku (1937-2007) (Mesa Media’s  Co-founder.

 Poleahla and Secakuku both believed that all Hopi people deserve to understand the richness of the Hopi language and its teachings and is one reason Mesa Media is trying to preserve and pass on the Hopi language. 

Hopi Corn Grinding Song by Yellow Fox. Photo- Crossing Worlds Foundation.

Hopi Corn Grinding Song by Yellow Fox. Photo- Crossing Worlds Foundation.

Our elders share with us their teachings and want to help us learn. They are the keepers of our valuable knowledge and skills. They are the ones who know the importance of the language,” Poleahla said.

Hopi Butterfly Dance. Photo- Crossing Worlds Foundation.

Hopi Butterfly Dance. Photo- Crossing Worlds Foundation.

The workshop is made possible by grants from the Christensen Fund, the Flagstaff Community Foundation (an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation) and the First Nation’s Development Institution (Native Youth Culture Fund).” Read more…

“For a person in danger of dying, the first job of medics is to get the heart beating again.For an endangered language,the first job is to get the native speakers speaking again.” ~Hinton 2001:13~ (From the Hopi website).

Kudos to the Hopi people, Mesa Media Inc., and all supporters of perserving Native languages!

For More Information on the Hopi Workshop Visit  Mesa Media

 

 

Category: Language