The Blackfeet Language Institute was held June 16-18 at the Blackfeet Head Start Multipurpose Room in Browning. The Institute was sponsored through Browning Public Schools' Blackfeet Native American Studies Department, and its main purpose was to develop Blackfeet word translations for classroom use.
Terminology in the areas of math, reading, music, technology and science was developed. Among those topics, the hardest content areas to develop were math and music because the Blackfeet language is descriptive so the translations were a bit longer.
The BNAS department will compile all the words into a booklet teachers can use in K-12 classrooms. With the new word inclusion in lesson plans and units, the school district will meet Indian Education For All requirements and BNAS department goals for implementing Indian Education For All into the existing curriculum.
Keynote speaker School Board Chairman Robert "Smokey" Rides At The Door spoke about keeping the language intact along with tribal dialect, and how important language is to students.
Darnell Rides At The Door was the speaker for the afternoon session June 16, addressing the topic of "Gifting," a traditional Native American practice and the protocol that goes with practice. On Tuesday, Marvin Weatherwax, language instructor at Blackfeet Community College spoke about language instruction and how continuity and consistency need to be present for language acquisition to be successful.
Many hours were spent working on word development, with participants including Superintendent Mary Johnson, district administrators who were only able to attend the first day due to other school commitments, as well as district teachers and staff who also participated in the Institute.
Several elders graciously helped with language development, including Gertie Heavy Runner, Molly Bullshoe, Hazel Whiteman, Al Potts, Melvin Running Wolf, Cynthia Kipp, Marvin Weatherwax and Lois Bird.
The students who lent their time to help and learn included John Juneau, James Bullshoe, Kandace Bullshoe, Aamber Lesmeister, Ally Bullshoe, Joe Elthie, Shawn Quiver and Millie Elthie. The students received jackets and community service hours for their participation.