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The Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute

S.I.L.I. Staff

The Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute emerged from the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Program in May, 1985 with a new Director, a new mandate, a new administrative structure and some new staff members. The staff of the S.I.L.I. presently includes:

• Freda Ahenakew, Director
• Smith Atimoyoo, Elder
• Shirley Fredeen Van Vliet, Researcher Developer
• Barbara McLeod, Researcher Developer
• Judy Smallchild, Secretary
• Lorna MacDonald, Linguist

The principle objectives of the Institute are as follows:

• to preserve the Indian languages of Saskatchewan
• to preserve the wisdom of the elders, by recording traditional stories, historical texts, myths and legends, and by making these available in the form of printed books
• to train Indian language curators to conduct the taping, transcribing and storing of these texts
• to train Indian language teachers
• to train Indian language specialists
• to develop Indian language teaching materials: text books, tapes, teachers' manuals, workbooks and reader

Despite severe shortages in staff and in funding, the staff at the Institute is well on the way to meeting these objectives.

Teachers' manuals, student workbooks and reader have been completed for both Cree and Saulteaux from Kindergarten to Grade Three. Picture card sets audiotapes, a song book, and a revised university level textbook have also been developed. All of these materials are available for sale through the Institute.

The Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute

S.I.L.I. Staff

During the summer of 1985, four summer students were hired to write and illustrate children's stories. To help them in their work, these students were able to attend a 'Workshop on Children's Literature, conducted by Jessica Latshaw and Susan Schneider for Institute staff and students. The students completed twelve stories, which will soon be edited and printed.

In the past several months, members of the Institute staff have attended a number of conferences dealing with both language teaching and linguistics, and have presented papers at these conferences. In addition, Freda Ahenakew received funding from the University of Manitoba which enabled her to travel to Winnipeg and complete the final editing and the glossaries for two Cree publications, kiskinahamawakan-acimowinisa and waskahikanowiyiniwacimowina. The first has been published and is available for sale through the Institute; the second is at the printers.

Smith Atimoyoo has spent time travelling throughout the province in order to do the fieldwork necessary for the various functions he performs at the Institute.

From its inception in 1972, the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Program has been offering university level courses to Indian language instructors throughout the province. Most of these instructors do not yet have their B. Ed. degrees, and upgrading them to this level has become a major goal of the S.I.L.I. To this end, three six-credit courses were delivered by Institute staff in the summer of 1985 to thirty-five Indian language instructors; these courses were Cree 120, Linguistics 110, and EdInd 365.

In the fall of 1985, two additional courses have been offered at the Institute, English 90 and Indian Studies 100. A group of language instructors from communities throughout Saskatchewan have been coming to Saskatoon for one week each month to attend classes. For the remaining three weeks every month, these instructors are able to remain in their communities and continue their own teaching duties. In this way, their employment is not interrupted as they are upgraded towards a B.Ed. degree. Beginning in January 1986, two more courses will be offered, Math 90 and Indian Art 100.

The language instructors served by the S.I.L.I. require a teacher training program with specialization in the following four areas:

• the Indian language to be taught (Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Assinboine or Dakota)
• methods of teaching Indian languages
• linguistics
• Indian studies

Since there is no one University in Saskatchewan offering a B. Ed. degree with specialization in all four areas, the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute is establishing a B. Ed. program through an existing institution, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina.

•Future plans of the Institute include offering a more advanced level of teacher training to accommodate those language instructors who are further along in their programs. It is expected that this will begin in June 1986.

The teacher training program, though still in its infancy, has received enthusiastic support from both the bands and the language instructors. To encourage a high level of academic achievement among those students participating in the program, the Institute will be awarding an annual scholarship, the Ida McLeod Memorial Scholarship, which has a value of $1,000. This scholarship is dedicated to the memory of the late Mrs. Ida McLeod, the founder of the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Program, as a tribute to her dedication to preserving the Indian languages of Saskatchewan.