CLASS (Cheyenne Language Acquisition for Serious Students): May 24, 2020

Clara Caufield: Going to the clouds

Even old dogs can learn new tricks. For example, I have recently learned to “go to the cloud”, via the internet. I was very curious about that, especially as so many young people, including my grandchildren are now attending classes and learning that way during the contra virus isolation.

Under the direction of Chief Dull Knife College (CDKC), Northern Cheyenne Professor Wayne Leman, a well-known Native linguist, holds three Cheyenne language classes per week via the ZOOM conferencing capability of the internet. Wayne is an interesting fellow, part Yupik from Alaska, he has spent much time with the Northern Cheyenne, becoming a fluent speaker of our language and an acknowledged writer.

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The Cheyenne alphabet is very different from English and reputedly Northern Cheyenne is one of the most challenging Native languages to learn. Yet, as his own people have seen their language go extinct, Wayne says “I don’t want to see that happen to other Tribes, especially Northern Cheyenne.” The on-line class is only one of many activities he participates in – part of a college wide effort to preserve the language.

As a life-long student of the Cheyenne language, this news delighted me. Though there are many benefits to living in an urban area, it does put a damper on the opportunity to regularly speak and practice the Cheyenne language.

Clara Caufield

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NILE Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters Cattle Drive & Parade on Facebook: Clara Caufield

So, with Wayne’s guidance I learned how to hop up into the cloud to do that. He somehow fixed my computer so it will respond to a few clumsy button clicks on my end. Before that, I didn’t even know my computer could talk! Apparently, it is inhabited by a “Mistah”, a small female ghost who either knows everything or can find it out.

The classes, held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings amaze me. It is very interactive. I can see and hear him (the instructor) and the other students and vice-versa. Though small in number, the students are diverse, accessing the cloud from the East to the West Coasts and in between.


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