One of the primary goals of AISRI is to work cooperatively with American Indian educational institutions to make the products of scientific research available to the communities in which the research was conducted. Today the foremost concern of most communities is language loss and language retention. To address that concern, AISRI has worked for over a decade to develop language curricula and other materials that can support language instruction programs in elementary and secondary schools as well as in community colleges.
Current educational projects include:
- Arikara, a language spoken today on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Working with the White Shield School, Roseglen, North Dakota, we are developing a comprehensive set of materials in both printed and computer formats for teaching Arikara at the elementary and secondary levels.
- Assiniboine, a language spoken on the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations in Montana and on the Carry The Kettle, White Bear, Pheasant's Rump, and Mosquito-Grizzly Bear's Head reserves in Saskatchewan. Working with Fort Belknap College, we are developing materials in both printed and computer formats for teaching Assiniboine at the post-secondary level.
- Lakota, Red Cloud School, Pine Ridge, SD.
- Pawnee, a language spoken today in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Working with the Pawnee Nation, we are developing materials in both printed and computer formats for teaching Pawnee in the local high school and in adult education classes.
The most recent product of these educational efforts is development of an innovative set of interactive multimedia language lessons for Arikara that supplement the traditional printed textbook. The computer lessons incorporate sound recordings of all language material. The format is significant because it incorporates native speech in sound-recorded form and insures that native speaker pronunciation of instructional materials will always be available to students, even after there are no remaining elder speakers of the languages. Thus, this format enables students to study their language in the absence of native speaker teachers, not only in their communities but also anywhere in the United States or abroad.
The Arikara lesson format, moreover, serves as a model for other languages and is now being used to develop lessons for Assiniboine and Pawnee.
Multimedia student dictionaries are another educational product being developed for language programs to teach Arikara, Assiniboine, and Pawnee. These dictionaries are scaled-down versions of the linguistic reference dictionaries currently being created in IDD. They contain sound recordings of all entry words and enable students to hear native pronunciation of written renditions. The dictionaries are being made available in two formats: as computer files and on compact disks (CDs).