21st Century Tools for Indigenous Languages

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Name of Project:    21st Century Tools for Indigenous Languages

Name of Researcher/Research Team Members/Community Partners:

– part of this research partnership consists of:

Lead Investigator: Dr. Antti Arppe (University of Alberta)

Co-Investigator: Dr. Arok Wolvengrey, (FNUniv)
Collaborators: Solomon Ratt (FNUniv), Andrea Custer (FNUniv)
Institutional Partner: First Nations University of Canada
Community Partners: Maskwacis, AB; La Ronge, SK

Funding institution/Grant (if applicable): SSHRCC: $2,500,000.00 (funded for 2019-2026)

Summary or Abstract of the Project:

“In response to the well-documented threats to Indigenous cultures and languages, this Partnership project supports the revitalization and sustained daily use of multiple Indigenous languages by developing modern technological tools and resources for these languages in collaboration with their respective communities. The project builds on previous SSHRC Partnership Development (2014-2017), Connections Outreach (2016-2018) and other grants to multiple partners which have funded earlier work on e.g. Algonquian languages (Plains Cree, Odawa, Northern East Cree, Blackfoot, Arapaho), Dene languages (Tsuut’ina, Upper Tanana) and others (Haida). This project is built on a foundation of active involvement by Indigenous communities, ensuring that the development of language technological applications will be driven by their needs.

Our team of documentary and computational linguists, as well as Indigenous communities, will develop a range of essential software resources and applications, including: (1) web-based dictionaries, (2) searchable databases of spoken recordings and written texts, (3) spell-checkers, and (4) computer-aided language learning applications. These tools make use of language technology to be able to handle the complex word structure of most Indigenous languages. They will enable the fullest mobilization of linguistic knowledge and materials from, to, within and across Indigenous communities. The project will also build capacity among Indigenous language instructors in the best use of these tools in community-based revitalization efforts, and provide substantially expanded functionalities for existing language technology resources (e.g. Algonquian Dictionary Infrastructure).”

– adapted from: https://21c.tools/

First Nations University of Canada personnel are currently involved in the development of the online Plains Cree dictionary resource, itwêwina (https://itwewina.altlab.app/), and related tools, as well as adapting these tools to create companion resources for Woods Cree (to be named itwîwina).

Any additional information you’d like included (photos, testimonials, etc.).

(see photo below)

l-to-r: Solomon Ratt (FNUniv), Jean Okimāsis (FNUniv retired), Antti Arppe (University of Alberta), Andrea Custer (FNUniv), Daniel Dacanay (University of Alberta), Arok Wolvengrey (FNUniv), at a Plains and Woods Cree 21CTfIL research session at First Nations University, September 29, 2022.
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