The Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center is honored to have 20 Shoshone elders who have volunteered to help preserve the Shoshone language

(Wind River Reservation, Wyoming) – The Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center received an ANA ARPA grant to create an online audio dictionary of the Shoshone language. Several tribal elders, other Shoshone language speakers, and community members come together for a 2-week session with a group of language experts from The Learning Conservancy (TLC) to create a database of full dictionaries.

With a dwindling number of fluent speakers, indigenous tribes across the country are facing the loss of their languages. TLC has developed a method of collecting words called Rapid Word Collection (RWC) that speeds up the overall language documentation process, doing in weeks what took years. Most tribes are able to document between 8,000 and 12,000 words in 2 weeks using this method.

During Rapid Word Collection, groups of Indigenous speakers and Elders respond to prompts led by TLC linguists. To maintain Covid-19 safety standards, language teams connect via Zoom with small groups of 2-3 seniors. The completed database is fundamental to future language learning efforts by the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

In this first week, we’re impressed that alumni saved thousands of words, working seamlessly with the new technology. They have a great time speaking their native language and inviting each other to say words they might not have said in years. Their stamina and energy levels are incredible, and they enjoy socializing with old and new friends.

The Language Conservancy is a non-profit organization that supports the revitalization of Indigenous languages ​​by developing programs, materials and technologies in close partnership with Indigenous communities.

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