Living Languages Grant Awarded to the Shawnee Language Immersion Program

Miami, OK – The Shawnee Tribe’s Language Immersion Program (SLIP), received official notice and release of funds from the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Economic Development’s Living Languages Grant. The Living Languages Grant awards SLIP $280,200 annually for three years, resulting in a grand total of $840,600. The project period began on January 1. 

“My initial reaction was amazement,” said SLIP Director Joel Barnes. “Acquiring this grant was a collaborative effort, from the support of the Shawnee Tribe Business Council, staff – especially Cheryl Barton in the Compliance Department, the Community Language Preservationists, volunteers and our Shawnee language students. – niyaawe [thank you].”   

The Shawnee Tribe was one of 20 American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal Organizations that were awarded from the $5.723 million grant pool to “document and revitalize languages that are at risk of disappearing because of declining native-speaker population.”  

“[Receiving the grant] reinforced for us that all the work we have put into the program is creating something worth investing in,” said Anastasia Miller-Youst, SLIP Linguist. “We are meant to grow our program for saawanooki [Shawnee people].”  

The Living Languages Grant is supporting SLIP’s continued work of revitalizing the Shawnee Language by implementing a comprehensive language immersion program with the following three objectives: 

– Objective # 1: Develop curricula for intermediate and advanced-level learners as well as a specialized Early Childhood Development curriculum. All curricula will incorporate experiential learning in an immersion environment through instruction, conversation, community activities and cultural events. 

– Objective # 2: Train Master Teachers (first-language and advanced second-language speakers) and Apprentices (advanced second-language learners) in language immersion teaching methods and in the Shawnee Language curricula. 

– Objective # 3: Implement six Shawnee Language Nests and one Early Childhood Development Immersion Program. Each Nest will be led by two apprentices who will, in turn, be taught and led by a Master Teacher. 

“With the grant, SLIP will be able to expand more than ever before and increase our capacity for students and teachers,” said Miller-Youst. “Shawnee citizens will have more support than ever before for learning saawanwaatoweewe [Shawnee language] and will have more exposure to the language and be in environments that promote conversational fluency.”

Plans also include increasing the number of live classes for each grant year and bringing SLIP participants together in person for the first time since the program began with an annual Shawnee Language Conference. By the end of the grant, SLIP hopes to have a larger pool of second-language Shawnee speakers to lead immersion for all Shawnee Citizens seeking to learn saawanwaatoweewe [Shawnee language].

“This grant allows us to continue to connect with Shawnee citizens all over the country,” said Barnes. “Be on the lookout for saawanwaatoweewe [Shawnee language] events coming soon!”

Funding for future years is contingent on congressional appropriations and SLIP’s submission of required documents detailing the tribe’s progress at the end of each project year.


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