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Connecting Siksika Students and Siksika Storytellers: A Blackfoot Language Documentation Project

A’tsotsspommootsiiyo’p Niitsitapi’powahsin: “We help each other together with the Blackfoot language”
 

Left to right: Heather Bliss (Simon Fraser University and University of Calgary), Ikino’motstaan Noreen Breaker (Siksika Nation) and Elizabeth Ritter (University of Calgary)

 
Congratulations to Heather Bliss (Simon Fraser University and University of Calgary), Ikino’motstaan Noreen Breaker (Siksika Nation) and Elizabeth Ritter (University of Calgary) who presented their paper, A’tsotsspommootsiiyo’p Niitsitapi’powahsin: “We help each other together with the Blackfoot language”, at the 6th International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation (ICLDC), Connecting Communities, Languages & Technology, held February 28-March 3, 2019, at the Hawaiʻi Imin International Conference Center on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
 


 
 
 
 


 

 
 

 
 
This paper reports on the ongoing development of an online database of Siksika Blackfoot oral stories, and the ways in which Bliss, Breaker and Ritter are engaging community members of various ages and linguistic abilities in language revitalization through database creation. Established in 2016, the database has grown to include over 80 stories told by fluent Elders and documented by Heather Bliss, a non-Indigenous linguist with longstanding community ties. Interest from younger and self-reported non-/semi-fluent community members is growing, and in response, the project has evolved to include these people in the different ways.
 

Their talk included the most recent contributions to this project, funded by an ii’ taa’poh’to’p Grant from the office of the Vice Provost Indigenization, at the University of Calgary. This funding was used to hire Siksika students at the University of Calgary as Research Assistants to learn how to record, edit, and archive stories for the database. Although not fluent in Blackfoot and living off-reserve away from Blackfoot-speaking communities, the students are working with the language in an immersive and concentrated way. They are developing technical skills in audio/video recording and editing while also engaging with their ancestral language, an opportunity that may inspire further studies in linguistics and language revitalization.

 
 

 

 

 

Click the image to view a PDF of the presentation