FEL 2020 grant: Using Northern Paiute stories as online teaching tools

This is the sixth project funded by an FEL grant in 2020.

Overview. This project aims to support revitalization efforts for Numu, or Northern Paiute. Numu is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in the Great Basin of the United States, which includes the state of Nevada, where this project is based. The main focus is on the documentation of stories in Numu, and the development of online resources for learners based on those stories. To achieve this, we are recording, transcribing, and translating stories as told by an elder who is well-known for his storytelling and teaching. We are then using these stories to develop a set of multi-level lessons (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) that build directly from linguistic, cultural, and narrative components of the stories. In order to ensure that the stories and lessons are readily available to learners, we are creating an online website that integrates all the materials. For each story, a learner will be able to listen to the audio, read a translation, read information on vocabulary and grammar, and answer comprehension questions. In this way, this project builds on the local Indigenous community’s goal of supporting educational efforts in the language by providing additional materials for use by those interested in teaching and learning the language.

Grantee. This project is led by Ignacio Montoya.

Ignacio is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He earned his PhD in linguistics at the City University of New York. Prior to his postgraduate work in linguistics, he taught in a wide variety of elementary and middle school classrooms and was motivated to pursue a PhD. in linguistics in part by his experiences as an educator. As a linguist, he approaches theoretical problems from functionalist perspectives in which findings in applied fields inform theory. His current research interests include a focus on Indigenous languages of North America. Since arriving in Reno in 2018, he was been studying Numu (Northern Paiute) and has been working with members of the community to preserve and fortify it.

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