Episode 4: Ktunaxa
Director: Michelle Smith
"We’re trying to think ahead, we’re trying to be very progressive...and trying to think of all the possible things that we need to do now for the future." - Don Maki, Director of Traditional Knowledge and Language Sector
Can the 'wired teepee' help save the Ktunaxa language in the Kootenays?
The Ktunaxa people are going to find out thanks to a number of technology initiatives taking place in their community. From the First Voices project to the seven million dollar fiber optics network, to a young woman recording her great aunt for the virtual language curriculum and kids listening on their iPods in the school yard, the community is doing everything it can to preserve and share a language that only has twenty-four remaining speakers.
The Ktunaxa language is a unique language related to no other in the world. With only 24 fluent speakers remaining, the Ktunaxa people are using technology to breath new life into their language. Marisa Philips, 20, lives in St. Mary's, British Columbia where she has created a podcast site from Ktunaxa language cassettes. She is also the administrator for the Ktunaxa First Voices project, a computer-based language program. In order to make these digital language tools more accessible, the community has upgraded its dial-up Internet service to a more efficient fiber optics network.
Marisa Philips' job with First Voices involves the recording of elders' voices for the website. In this segment, we follow Marisa as she visits her aunt, Elizabeth Gravelle, and records her for the Ktunaxa First Voices project.
"I find that language is connected to just about anything that you do. It’s a feeling of community, it's a feeling of self. It should definitely be one of the top priorities of a community or of a nation cause once we lose that bit of language, we lose that history of who we are." - Marisa Philips
The Ktunaxa people can now learn their language without even leaving their home thanks to an online, for-credit Ktunaxa language course offered through the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C. We also visit Aqamnik School where students are taught Ktunaxa starting at daycare.