The Stoney Education Authority (SEA), with support from The Language Conservancy, is releasing historic Stoney Nakoda language learning resources this December. This release includes three picture books, a Level 1 textbook, and an alphabet coloring book. The release also includes several digital resources: a 9,000-word web and mobile dictionary, a textbook-accompanying media player app, and a vocabulary-building app.
Producing learning materials in the Stoney Nakoda language is no small task, especially amid a global pandemic, but the work is essential for future generations of speakers. Stoney Elders, linguists, and an entire support team spent the last two years creating a lexical database through revolutionary processes known as Rapid Word Collection (RWC) and Rapid Rerecord (RRC). These meticulous word collection and definition verification methods typically require in-person gatherings; however, due to COVID restrictions, those committed to the mission pivoted and completed the project through a series of virtual events.
Language is a cornerstone of human identity, and it is a critical element in the continuation of Indigenous culture, customs, and global linguistic diversity. For Cherith Mark, Cultural and Language Coordinator for the Stoney Education Authority, these new learning materials are a bridge between tradition and modernity. “The new Stoney language resources will provide new learners with the opportunity to acquire language learning in a unique way. In particular, the Stoney language apps and online dictionary provide the recorded voices of Stoney elders and speakers for the purpose of preserving the traditional oral ways while integrating with new modern technologies,” Mark says.
Efforts to preserve the Stoney Nakoda language won’t stop with the December learning materials release. “These new resources are just the first step in a multi-year project, and the next step of resources are already being developed,” Mark says. A student dictionary, a Level 2 textbook, a podcast series, and continued dictionary updates are currently in the works.
The Stoney Education Authority (SEA) works to ensure that Stoney Nation’s history, language, and collective knowledge are passed on to future generations. SEA works with four schools throughout Stoney Nation to promote literacy and the revival of the Stoney Nakoda language.
The Language Conservancy (TLC) is a nonprofit organization that supports Indigenous language revitalization by developing programs, materials, and technologies in close partnership with Indigenous communities.