Aboriginal languages app launches in Fort Qu'Appelle

By
June 24, 2014 - 11:00am
An app developed by File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council teaches several aboriginal languages. Photo by CJME's Brady Knight.
An app developed by File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council teaches several aboriginal languages. Photo by CJME's Brady Knight.

Language is the cornerstone of any culture and a Saskatchewan First Nations agency is trying something new in an effort to preserve aboriginal languages.

The File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council unveiled an app on Monday in Fort Qu'Appelle.

It took about three years to complete and teaches Nakota, Dakota, Lakota, Saulteaux and Cree through practice, games and quizzes.

"We know that our languages are at risk," said Director of Education Lori Poitras. "And if we don't do something about it, we're not going to have our own languages

Chairperson Edmund Bellegarde said the Residential School era took away many things from aboriginal people, including their mother tongue.

"We're really hoping this encourages our young people, especially, to reclaim their language," he said.

Bellegarde added aboriginal languages are very contextual.

"One word in our language could mean many words strung together in the English language," he said. "A few words in our language can mean pages."

One of the elders who lent their voice to the app was Wayne Goodwill from Standing Buffalo. He said in the process of translating words, they ran into a few unique situations.

"Some of the words we didn't know," he laughed. "Like alligators and giraffes - so we gave them names."

There was plenty of friendly debate between the numerous elders who voiced the words and phrases on the app. Thanks to Goodwill, the Dakota word for giraffe now translates to "long neck" in English.

The app can be downloaded for free in the iTunes app store.

bknight@rawlco.com
Follow on Twitter: @BradyKnight1