Premium Dakota Language App released by Marty Indian School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 24th, 2012
Contact: Diane Merrick
Phone: 605.384.2161
Email: Diane.Merrick@k12.sd.us

Premium Dakota Language App released by Marty Indian School

A young Dakota girl in a classroom on the Yankton Indian Reservation is holding an iPad. She touches the screen and hears “De anpetu oyamikipi”. She repeats the phrase, which is recorded and played back to her. She smiles because her pronunciation matches that of the Native speaker. The phrase means “Today I am happy” in the Dakota language. This is a scene that school administrators hope to see and hear at the Marty Indian School where they have put the final touches on the most extensive indigenous language application to hit the iTunes Store.

“We have only a few remaining speakers and time is of the essence” says Diane Merrick, the Dakota Language Director at the school located in Marty, S.D. Marty Indian School is tribally controlled, administered and managed by tribal members. The app, called “Dakota One” includes over 700 sound files and images in 25 categories ranging from “Animals” and, “Numbers” and “Clothing” to more advanced categories such as “Commands”, “Get dressed”, “Dakota Life Ways” and “Clanship”. Two categories; “Female Relations” and “Male Relations” feature photos of Yankton community members.

“I’ve seen the app and it is absolutely beautiful” said Altina Mace, a former language teacher at the school. “And it’s generating a lot of excitement in the community”. The advanced app contains a searchable database, 3 types of memory games with easy, medium and hard levels, 3 types of quizzes; listening, speaking and reading. It also has the ability to track students’ progress using the “Email your scores” function. It represents a tremendous group effort.

The app can be downloaded for $9.99 from the iTunes Store with all proceeds going to Marty Indian School’s Language Development Fund to further language revitalization and preservation efforts. The app can be found by searching “Dakota Language” in the iTunes store. iPhone/iPod Touch versions are also available. The app was created by Thornton Media, a Cherokee-owned company who in 2009 released the first indigenous language-teaching app in the iTunes store.

“We have a language committee who is very supportive and stand strong in the belief that the language is essential to indigenous identity”, said Diane. “While our students will use the technology, we are also excited many others will also purchase our sophisticated application designed by Thornton Media”. She noted that “The superintendent, Dr. Mike Elsberry, is extremely supportive and has purchased 40 iPads for our language class because of the app”.

“The dialect is my first language – the language that surrounded me” said Diane, whose voice graces the app. “I will always, always remember and acknowledge my beloved folks for the life- way teachings they shared with me by way of daily example, gestures and the mother-tongue of the Dakhota/Nakhota dialect”. She added “The purpose of the technology tool is to engage the participant in how we learn and evolve with the use of technology toward revitalization and preservation of the ‘Ihanktonwan’ (End Village / Yankton Sioux) dialect”.

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