Tag Archives: Indigenous Language

Native American Dictionaries

Online Dictionaries

This link on the Multilingual Books website lists a number of online resources for the following languages:

The online dictionaries vary in formats. Some are in ebook format or PDF files while others are web sites.


Learning Language Online Miromaa



While surfing around I found a site created by the Miromaa Aboriginal and Technology Centre to aid in educating people about a number of native aboriginal dialects in Australia.

This website is a great example of how the web can help aboriginal groups save and share their languages.  It includes many blended resources such as a Youtube channel, saved voice clips and educational based resources to help learners and teachers alike.  The site is very well designed and pulls your into it.  I found myself spending more than a few minutes there and really felt engaged.  The site does a great job in connecting people to the material and encouraging them to learn more.

Digital Technology for Indigenous Empowerment – Christensen Fund.org

I’m posting a link to a site that was really interesting not only for my research but because of our readings and discussion in the last couple of weeks.  This is a blog post from 2012 that contains three ways Indigenous cultures in different places in the world have used different kinds of technology.

In one part called “Preserving, Celebrating and Transmitting Culture” the blogger talks about the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia, they use digital cameras to shoot film footage documenting the “richness of their tribe and their struggles.” They are using this technology to give their people a voice and represent themselves to the outside world. In this case study they also mention Isuma TV which Zacharias Kunuk created in 2008 which is described as an “Indigenous YouTube channel for Inuit and other Aboriginal Peoples.”


The Christensen Fund itself is an organization that supports biological and cultural diversity and believe in their interdependence. They have a long mission statement if you care to follow the link.

Module 4, Post 4 – Centre for study, documentation and conservation of adivasi languages.

Bhasha (meaning speech) is one of the true centres of excellence for study, documentation and conservation of adivasi languages in India. http://www.bhasharesearch.org

It has actively founded and promoted a host of different causes like –

The People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI)Conceived as a project to capture how people identify, name and perceive what they speak, the survey also contains the stories of people’s origin, dispersal and relationship with the neighbouring cultures.

Budhan Theatre – A national platform for pooling the creative energies of nomadic communities, studying their traditional cultural practices and documenting and disseminating this information amongst wider society to bridge social differences and bring about attitudinal changes.


Module 3 / Post 5: Teaching Indigenous Languages Books

Teaching Indigenous Languages Books is a webpage that features many articles on Indigenous language instruction. There are some great articles featured here that tie into my research quite nicely. Specifically, I like the articles on The Pedagogical Potential of Multimedia Dictionaries and Indigenous Language Revitalization and Technology. There are many more great articles on this site and this is definitely a good starting point for anyone wanting to learn more about Indigenous language revitalization.

Module 3 / Post 4: First Voices

First Voices Kids is a website that lets children play games featuring their Indigenous language. There are 50 Indigenous languages featured on this website! Many of the activities are focused around learning basic vocabulary (e.g.: learning vocabulary while colouring pictures). While it is admirable that this site features 50 languages, it is still at the beginning stages of what can be accomplished with technology. The connection to my research is that I wish to show how technology can be used to support language learning beyond the basics featured here.

Module 3 / Post 3: Indigenous Language Revitalization

The First Peoples’ Cultural Council website is an amazing resource for information on Indigenous languages and language revitalization. There is a ton of information and resources available here. Whether you plan to teach an indigenous language or just incorporate some First Nations culture into the classroom, this website is a great place to start. You can also read a status report on First Nations’ languages in B.C.

You will also find information on a number of language programs run by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. They run language & culture camps as well as offer a mentorship program where an Indigenous person can apprentice to a fluent speaker for a year and complete 300 hours of language immersion. There are many great resources on successful language learning on this website, including:

What drew me to this site (and its connection to my research) is the Language Toolkit. Here I found a lot of information on Indigenous language revitalization. I think any technological solution applied to saving Indigenous languages should start here. Language revitalization is about more than just dictionary apps.

Module 3 / Post 2: Indigenous Language Fonts

With Indigenous orthographies, you need special fonts. Many Indigenous fonts can be found on the LanguageGeek website. Once you’ve installed these fonts, any webpage that is written in that Indigenous language will be correctly displayed using that language’s orthography. These fonts are a necessity for developing Indigenous language resources online. It is important to note that these are Unicode fonts. While all modern browsers will support these fonts, not every text editor will. Fortunately, Microsoft Word does support Unicode. That means that you can use Word to write in an Indigenous language once you’ve installed these fonts. Here’s a support page on using Unicode fonts.

Module 3 / Post 1: Indigenous Language Apps

I’ve been thinking about my research topic and I think I’m far more intrigued by First Nations language revitalization. I think this is a natural outgrowth of my previous research interest in Indigenous ways of knowing. I’m interested in how technology is being used to revitalize First Nations languages. Language and culture are intertwined and the way that we come to know the world is through language. Therefore language plays a big role in the development of a culture’s epistemology. Language helps define a culture’s way of knowing.

To that end, I’ve discovered some fascinating iOS apps to support First Nations language revitalization. Most of the apps take the form of dictionaries with words and phrases from an Indigenous language accompanied by audio recordings, images and sometimes video. Most of the apps use the English alphabet instead of that language’s orthography. Here are links to many of the apps I discovered:

CreeDictionary app
A Cree dictionary that features the ability to translate between the English alphabet and the Cree syllabary.

Nisga’a app
Another dictionary app that features audio recordings and images.

FirstVoices Chat app
I thought this app was awesome. It features keyboards for over 100 Indigenous languages! It is a texting app designed to make it easier for Indigenous peoples to use custom keyboards for their language on Facebook and Google chats. You don’t need to login or create an account to use this app. You can skip past the login screen and play with all the various keyboards.

I found many of these apps a little confusing. There was little to no introduction with these apps. I would have liked a pronunciation guide and a little guidance in speaking the language. For example, in the Nisga’a app, there are three words for ‘uncle’ with two of them being identical. It would have been nice to understand the difference between them.

While these apps are all very well done for a first attempt, I fear that many of them are no longer in development as many were released in 2012 and no updates have come out since. Many were programmed by the same developer and a list of 13 First Nations language apps can be found here.