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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 28, 2001 - Issue 41


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Idaho Reservation School Preserves Tribal Language


 by EMILY JONES Idaho State Journal

FORT HALL, Idaho - When Alta Browning asks a group of squirming first-graders to say the Shoshoni words they know, everyone can come up with at least a few.

"One boy got the numbers from one to five," Browning said. "He was so proud."

Classes at Fort Hall Elementary received Shoshoni alphabet books from an Idaho State University language arts education class.

The Shoshoni language is spelled differently than the Shoshone tribal name, but the language is the native tongue for many of the Indians who call southeast Idaho and the reservation of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes home.

Class members use a Shoshoni dictionary developed at the university to build the books for the children. Senior Catherine Christensen said she had fun making the books and working with the children on a language their ancestors spoke.

"We got to learn a lot about a new culture we were unfamiliar with," she said.

Fourth-graders Magic Smith and Josie Little John, the school's Indian chief and Indian princess, both said they knew some Shoshoni but hope to learn more. Smith wants to help others.

"You can teach it to others who don't know it," he said.

Browning said learning Shoshoni helps build self-esteem and confidence. When she grew up, she said, speaking her language was looked down upon.

"I grew up hating the fact that I was Indian," she said. With the language, "they find themselves. They find an identity. They become proud."


 Maps by Travel

Shoshoni Language

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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