Archive for August, 2010

Ojibwe Radio Station


By Staff
Thursday, August 26, 2010



Ojibwe radio launch a success

M’CHIGGENG – Carol Hughes and guest, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, attended the grand opening of GIMA Radio at the Neon Raven Art Gallery in M’chigeeng yesterday.

The not-for-profit, Ojibwe language station had a good crowd for the launch which should bode well for its ability to attract listeners.

The radio station is the product of the hard work of and perseverance Anong Beam and the vision of her late father, Mr. Carl Beam.

It is a dream that was tested in the licensing process as the CRTC has abandoned the special licences that allowed this type of station to exist.

Concerns about competition were cited in the process, ignoring the obvious language divide that makes GIMA Radio unique.

“This is a great outcome,” said Hughes. “My office worked tirelessly with Anong and Mark to get the CRTC to grant this licence. Now we will have to convince the CRTC to reinstate the special licences so others can follow GIMA’s model.”

The station is said to be the first entirely indigenous-language station in the populous part of North America.

There are Native owned and Reservation stations, but even if they have some indigenous language programming, they operate like commercial FM stations.

Carl Beam, who made history as the first Native artist to have his work purchased by the National Gallery of Canada as contemporary art, will have a major retrospective of his work, mounted by the National Gallery of Canada, in October, 2010.

Mr. Beam long felt that radio was the ideal way to help preserve the Ojibwe language, which is an oral tradition, and one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world.

“Now that his (Carl Beam’s) vision has come to fruition, the Anishinabek Mindoo Mniss will have a better opportunity to preserve their language,” said Hughes. “Elders and youth alike will certainly benefit from the services and entertainment the radio station will be affording them.”

Getting the station on-air has been a labour of love for Anong Beam and her husband Mark Larochelle who have given both time and money in their pursuit of this truly unique broadcaster.

“It is my father’s dream, but both Mark and I have put a lot of work in to get to this point,” said Beam.

Ojibwe is one of the few Native languages that is viewed as having a good chance to survive in North America.

In Canada, many of Mr. Beam’s generation, including the artist himself, were forced into residential schools where their language was not allowed.

“The emotional response from the community has been huge,” said Ms Beam. “I have heard people speaking Ojibwe that I had no idea were able to. It is great for our kids too, who will grow up listening to their own language and have it be a real part of their community.”



August 31, 2010 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

Navajo comes to Rosetta Stone

from The Daily Times.

Navajo language software hits the market

— By Alysa Landry — The Daily Times

Posted: 08/25/2010 01:04:59 AM MDT

The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Rosetta Stone, creator of the renowned language learning software, on Tuesday released its Navajo version, the first large-scale language revitalization project for the dialect.

Navajo, traditionally an oral language, still is spoken by more than 100,000 people, making it the most common American Indian language north of Mexico.

Yet use and fluency among the younger generations is on a decline with about 50 percent of Navajo age 17 and younger unable to speak their native language at all, according to data from the 2000 U.S. Census.

The software is the result of thousands of hours of work and hundreds of volunteers who provided expertise, photos, audio recordings and cultural support to the project.

Launched in December 2007 through a nonprofit group of Navajo educators called Navajo Language Renaissance, the project sought to revitalize what is considered to be an endangered language.

“Navajo is very hard to learn,” said Lorraine Manavi, language professor at San Juan College. “It’s difficult when the concepts and sentence structures are dramatically different from a person’s first language.”

For native English speakers, for example, learning Navajo is less about the words and more about rearranging the sentence structure and putting the verb last.

Instead of saying “the bird is sitting on a tree,” Manavi said, the Navajo translation would be “the bird, the tree, on it, it

sits.”Similar software, which is immersion-based, not memory-based, has assisted English speakers to learn other difficult languages, such as Russian and Arabic, said Marion Bittinger, manager of Rosetta Stone’s Endangered Language program.

“We’re excited that the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program can play a role in encouraging younger generations to use the Navajo language,” Bittinger said in a prepared statement. “We’re optimistic our work with indigenous groups will be a step toward reversing the tide of global language extinction.”

Navajo is one of five endangered languages adopted by the Virginia-based Rosetta Stone. The company already has produced language-learning software in 30 languages.

Rosetta Stone launched its Endangered Language Program in 2004 to help revitalize native dialects. The program has completed software programs for Mohawk, Alaskan Inupiac and Labrador, an Eskimo language.

Manavi, who teaches Navajo language classes at the college, was on a team of linguists, editors and native speakers who developed the first Navajo language software available to anyone with a computer.

The first two levels are complete, Manavi said. Navajo Language Renaissance will own and market the software, with a goal of getting it into every school on the reservation and in border towns. The software will not be part of Rosetta Stone’s commercial product line.

Manavi said she hopes to use it in the classroom, but that it will not take the place of her regular curriculum.

“This is another supplement,” she said. “It’s a beginning process, but we need more training on it. I haven’t really seen the product or how it works, so we need to look at it before we use it in the classroom.”

The software also comes out the same month the Central Consolidated School District offers its first Navajo immersion class for kindergarten students.

Alysa Landry:

August 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Letterpress to Print Cherokee Language

Letterpress to Print Cherokee Language Arrives at Oconaluftee Institute

Full story.

August 14, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

AP article on mistranslation of Washington town

Sequim has been mistranslated for a century


SEQUIM, Wash. — A tribal linguist has determined the translation used for the past century for the town of Sequim – long believed by many to mean “quiet waters” – is wrong.

The correct translation, it turns out, is a “place for going to shoot,” a reference to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley’s once great elk and waterfowl hunting, said Timothy Montler, an expert in the study of dying languages.

Since 1992, Montler has studied the Klallam language and interviewed elders in the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe in Blynn. The tribe announced the new, more accurate translation last week after the culture committee decided it should be publicized, said Betty Oppenheimer, the tribe’s publications specialist.

“I think it just quietly rippled out of the ether,” Oppenheimer said of how the wrong translation spread.

When asked where the “quiet waters” translation came from, Montler said “that’s something that somebody made up.”

The “quiet waters” reference is ingrained in Sequim history, with references in regional visitor guides, historical publications and on websites, including those of Sequim Chamber of Commerce, the city of Sequim and the state’s sites for Sequim Bay State Park and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The executive director of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce said there are plans to update brochures and a website to reflect the change – as soon as time and budgets allow.

“We think it’s very exciting,” said Vickie Maples. “It’s kind of like finding out a little more about your family history.”

Montler, a distinguished research professor in linguistics at the University of North Texas, has created a Klallam language website with help from the last few native speakers on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Klallam is one language in a larger family of Native American languages called Salishan or Salish spoken in what is now Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

A speaker of Lummi, for example, could learn Klallam very easily, and vice versa. The Klallam language, itself, has several dialects.

The Klallam word for Sequim can be broken down into parts that mean “reason, thing or place for” and “shoot (with gun or bow and arrow)” and the ending means “go to.”

“So literally it means ‘place for going to shoot,'” Montler said.

He said the analysis leaves no doubt.

“It is clear to Native speakers and has been confirmed by elders,” Montler said.

Jamestown S’Klallam tribe is trying to keep the language alive, teaching it to tribal youths beginning in kindergarten, she said.

“They learn to introduce themselves and sing the songs of the language,” she said.

Pat McCauley, a marketing businesswoman in Sequim for much of the past 25 years, said the “quiet waters” reference was cited in the late Clallam County historian Harriet U. Fish’s findings and books as coming from tribal members.

“That blows me away,” McCauley said, responding to the new translation. “But in some ways it makes sense. Sequim is not a waterfront town.”

Elaine Grinnell, a Jamestown S’Klallam tribal member and a member of the Sequim Museum & Arts Center board, said her grandmother, Elizabeth Prince, was interviewed by Montler before she died.

“My people did go there to shoot,” Grinnell, born in 1936, recalled. “The ducks would go in there, and the hunting was plentiful. I remember that as a kid.”

Her cousin and fellow tribal member, Les Prince, said he trusted Montler’s translation if he talked to the elders, but he also suspected there may be a number of interpretations.

Klallam language website:

August 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment