Urgent times are upon my UmoNhoN (against the current) people. There are approximately 5000 tribal members within our rural reservation community, and amongst us, less than 10 fluent speakers remain. These speakers are all 80 years and older. The purpose of this community driven project will be to create short video clips that will teach UmoNhoN tribal members how to speak common, everyday language phrases that can be spoken on a daily basis through habitual interactions. Utilizing social media networks as educational tools, and community members as active participants, will help us do so.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Omaha Reservation – Macy and Walthill, Nebraska, USA
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
This project has taken a multi-generational approach of involvement from grade school through Eldership in our UmoNhoN community. Merging the knowledge and skills of the generations will secure the success of this project – we need the multimedia willingness of the youth, the educators expertise, the communities desire, and most importantly, our Elders life experience.
Currently, there are no language resources online teaching UmoNhoN language to our people. What is available online is linguistic material geared towards academics, not tribal language learners. The search for online resources has left little to be found, though summons and requests have been made. Facebook is the #1 social media site amongst our tribal members, and we have a strong presence. It is a good place to begin.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
- Vida Stabler, Indian Education Director, UmoNhoN Nation Public School
– Title VII (Indian Education) Parent Committee & Culture Club
– Community Elders/Speakers
– Community Members/Active Listeners (those who understand fluency, but are not fluent speakers)
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
This community driven project will begin by producing 20 short video clips that will be viewable by tribal members, near and far, to assist in the need for retaining our UmoNhoN language. The videos will showcase common, everyday phrases that can be spoken daily though ordinary social interactions. The language segments will be created by UmoNhoN tribal members, and will feature local community members as subjects in the videos. The content for the clips will come from Elders, language teachers and language learners, as well as various other documented materials and language curriculum. Translation of written materials will be under the direction of the Indian Education Director who has worked over ten years in creating an UmoNhoN language curriculum for the K-12 classroom.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
Contacting the Director of the Indian Education Program (Title VII) was imperative because she was the originator of the idea of posting short video segments on social media sites for language acquisition. Included in the Title VII departments support is the use of classroom space, iPads and UmoNhoN language curriculum materials that we will be able to use as a content resource for our video productions. As the project unfolds during the coming summer months, we will rely on word-of-mouth, local advertising and Facebook to further our partnership list – announcements like this work in a small rural community like ours. Local organizations with summer youth programs will begin to show interest for their participants to be involved, as well as be sought out.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
The goal of project is to have an good balance of youth, adults (community members) and Elder participants. Within the limits of our space and resources this would be approximately, but not more than, twenty participants per tech night. I expect the participation to fluctuate, however, 10 dedicated participants throughout the summer months would allow time for me, the technology trainer, to spend quality one-on-one coaching time with each participant. The ultimate technological goal will be to provide the coaching necessary to get each participant to feel confidant in their production abilities without direct instruction present. Of course the creation of language clips are dependent on other resources, it is important to have community members trained in the production of such materials.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
For the purpose of the project the primary tools we will be using will be a digital SLR camera, iPads, participants personal mobile devices, and a computer for editing purposes. If there is a circumstance when editing is needed we will use YouTube Editor. The quality videos will be posted to our FB page, Twitter and a selected online video channel. A simplistic procedure is necessary, because technology and language can be daunting, if production of multimedia materials is not kept simple.
Over the past ten years I have taught language technology skills at home and abroad with community-based, traditional language learners. Teachings include the creation of animations, digital dictionaries, basic camera & computer skills, and the use of free and open source software such as Audacity.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The community classes we be held at the Title VII UmoNhoN Language and Cultural Center, located at the UmoNhoN Nation Public School in Macy, Nebraska. This space is unique because the classroom holds the shape of our traditional UmoNhoN earthlodge. We will have access to the school internet service, but if we run into restrictions (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) we will be able to access the open network from the Tribal Government building across the street. The UNLCC has a total of five iPads that they are allowing us to use during the community tech nights. When advertising for the community tech nights I will specifically ask participants to bring their mobile devices, if they have one. I will bring my personal computer for editing purposes and borrow another from the UNLCC.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
I am an enrolled Omaha Tribal member. I was born on the reservation and attended grade school here. By May 2014 I will have earned my K-8 teaching certificate with a concentration in ESL (English as a Second Language). I believe I am the most appropriate person to implement this citizen media campaign because over ten years ago I recognized a gap, and I have taken the steps to fill that gap. Our UmoNhoN language is an endangered language. We no longer have the opportunity to learn the language from our Elders in a traditional manner. The point in our history has arrived where we need to combine what we have to produce multimedia language tools.
The long-term goal of this project will be to continually produce short language clips for viewing by UmoNhoN tribal members, near and far.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The Facebook page will be a place where tribal members can watch videos and learn to speak UmoNhoN language, however, anytime there is a discussion about publicizing our UmoNhoN language there is resistance from some members. Our language is precious, and some believe that others should not be granted the opportunity to learn, or speak, what is ours. For this reason, Facebook's restriction settings are appealing. If members have a request or a suggestion, they can message the page’s administrator, and if the request is possibly and fits under our scope, then we will work on producing the video. Updates and progress will also be posted on the page, as to keep our members informed of what is happening on our end, as well as to encourage others to become involved with the process.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
We will be able to measure our member count based on how many followers we have on the Against the Current: Language Capture Project Facebook page. Word of this will spread fast, but my hopes are that all the participants involved in producing the videos will do their part to practice speaking the phrases they took part in creating the videos for.
Because the page members are watching and learning the same videos, the goal is that they will be able to practice with one another in daily, unprompted situations when they see each other in the community. Success will be determined based on how often this occurs. It will not be easy to measure, however the video clips are a resource that will not disappear. They are a language tool that will be available for people to reference and practice.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
Our first community meeting will be set for the beginning of June 2014, in the evening, so we can make it as convenient as possible for community members to partake. Though the timeline for this project is continuous, the goal is to have four community tech nights, and produce at least 20 videos by the end of July 2014. That allows us two months to gather participants, create videos, post our products, and most importantly, practice speaking the content.
By the end of summer, active online community members shall have had enough online learning exposure to begin attempting to converse with others whom they recognize as being active Against the Current: Language Capture Project members. Our annual Harvest Celebration is during the first full moon in August. This celebration creates the perfect opportunity for those tribal members near and far to practice what they have learned in our online UmoNhoN language revival community.
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Canon EOS 7D 18.0 MP Digital SLR Camera – Black – EF 28-135mm IS Lens: $1500
Project coordinator/IT expert and teacher: $450
(monitoring & coordinating the work of the team, mentoring, scheduling, correspondence, development of training materials, teach four community tech nights to participants/community members , networking, evaluation & reporting, dissemination and publisher of produced videos)
Outreach specialist: $200
(Correspondence with teachers and school representatives, mentoring, contribution to language curriculum, work with language teachers and elder, networking)
1-2 elder speakers/teacher (2 x $100): $200
Travel expenses: $50
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices has global support that is considered invaluable. Working with endangered languages is a particular challenge because it means there are so few people who have the ability to teach this precious language. There is value in providing others the opportunity to share a success story with others – what worked, why it worked, and how they made it work! These are the types of things I wish to gain from a relationship with Rising Voices.
Valita Mihusa Stabler