Newswise — MILWAUKEE _The National Science Foundation has awarded $100,000 to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education to help research the preservation and teaching of two indigenous languages.

The institute will partner with two tribal colleges serving the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Wisconsin and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan. The total NSF award is $340,000, with $120,000 going to each of the tribal colleges – Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College and Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College.
The collaborative effort will focus on two Algonquian languages of the Great Lakes, the Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and Menominee languages.

At UWM, Margaret Noodin, director of the Electa Quinney Institute, and a group of students will use data from the Wisconsin Native American Languages Project, created in the 1970s, and add new material in recordings and transcriptions.

Michelle Haskins at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College will work with elder women to record the vocabulary and complex phrasing they believe is important to pass on to the next generation.

Adam Haviland and George Roy, faculty members at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, will work to preserve the local history of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The goal of that work is to transfer stories into Anishinaabemowin while also educating the broader community about the boarding school system.

The grant, part of NSF’s Documenting Endangered Languages program, allows each institution to develop research projects specific to the local knowledge in their communities.