Colleges collaborate to preserve tribal language, culture

October 17, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The tribal college on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks are working together on a project to digitally preserve Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara language and culture.

The schools will use a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the initiative, which includes a separate effort to boost the study of American Indian history in the Dakotas.

Faculty and students at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town will conduct oral interviews with Three Affiliated Tribes elders and then inventory, preserve and digitize what officials say is “critically endangered” language resources and other at-risk traditional knowledge. The UND team will help with the digital collection.

Together, the schools will create educational resources for the state’s new K-12 Native American history curriculum and as part of a special program on the tribal campus, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

The North Dakota Legislature earlier this year approved a bill that requires elementary school instruction to include an emphasis on the state’s federally recognized Indian tribes: the Three Affiliated Tribes, Standing Rock Sioux, Spirit Lake Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Nation.

The Standing Rock and Sisseton Wahpeton reservations both stretch into South Dakota.