Dakotah language project

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Thu Sep 2 14:08:46 UTC 2004

>>From http://www.aberdeennews.com

 Posted on Mon, Aug. 23, 2004

School part of Dakotah language project

Associated Press

WATERTOWN, S.D. - Lake Area Technical Institute and Sisseton-Wahpeton
College are teaming up to preserve and teach the Dakotah language.

LATI media programmer Jason Julius and media specialist Bob Day will work
over the next year to take information gathered by SWC and make it into a
multimedia language tutorial.

Day explained that the idea was developed by SWC President William
Lonefight, who was interested in finding a partner with the resources able
to take on such a project. While touring the innovation center on the
campus of LATI, he was struck by the fact that the technology available
might be able to handle the project, Day said.

He said that SWC will do the initial end of capturing the information.
LATI will take it from there.

"They will capture their elders speaking and we will take the content and
make it into a multimedia language tutorial," Day said.

The goal is to provide some level of literacy in the language through the
program being written by Julius and Day. It contains specific imagery for
the detailed language - one which even deviates from when males and
females speak - as well as some of the different characters not included
on a standard keyboard.

Julius is a recent computer information systems graduate from LATI who
expects to see his proficiency in Dakotah increase as he works with it on
a day-to-day basis.

"It sounded interesting to learn a language while I write a program," he

He explained that the program will largely be contained on disc, but that
with the proper computer system, it could be fully contained on the Web, a
trend LATI is becoming more a part of with Web-based classes available
through its nursing programs as well as those offered in conjunction with
the Midwest Dairy Institute.

The program is being funded through SWC. It is scheduled for one year, at
which time a review will take place and a second year is possible. Day
said the school put together an initial demonstration for SWC, taking a
laptop computer to the college, where some of the participants were able
to give an idea of how what they say will be used in the finished product.

"We looked at some other industry standards of computer-based learning
tools," Day said. "We are going to include some improvements in our
software that aren't a part of the other commonly used packages."

Day said programs like these could prove very valuable in the preservation
of the hundreds of Native American languages.

LATI director Gary Williams added that the school is pleased to be working
on a project of this importance.

"It's a great honor for Lake Area Tech to work with our Native American
friends and partner with the SWC in such a worthwhile project," he said.


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