In times of anxiety and unknowing, culture is a reassuring lens through which to view the world. Whether through prayer, ritual, habit, or community, having a culture in common with those around you helps us all feel like we are together as one.
Running Strong remains devoted to protecting and promoting Indigenous cultures, and now more than ever, we must ensure these cultures won’t be erased with time. This is being achieved with our partner, the Yuchi Language Project, which is focused on teaching young Yuchi students in Oklahoma the Yuchi language and traditional practices.
Because there are so few native Yuchi speakers left, the Yuchi Language Project aims to pass knowledge to children so they will be able to praise their ancestors in their traditional tongue. Yuchi is what linguists call an “isolate,” meaning it has no apparent relationship to any other language or language family, and in many ways, the language remains alive because of the funding we provide to the program.
The Yuchi Language Project allows us to provide so much to the community. Along with providing children with coats, boots, and kits over the winter, Halay Turning Heart, Executive Director at the Yuchi Language Project looked forward to a spring slate of activities, including outreach for the 2020 Census. Although some of those plans changed, Halay is taking the opportunity to explore new ways for their cultural community to stay connected and continue learning their language.
Thanks to our supporters, we provided many of our partners with laptop computers so that Native American families could participate in the 2020 Census online, as well as have the ability to bridge the digital divide for communities throughout Indian Country. Today, partners like the Yuchi Language Project are using this technology to continue language and culture programs while maintaining social distancing.
“We are using Zoom and other apps to continue to connect with staff and students on a daily basis,” Halay told us. “Moving forward, the Chromebook (laptop) will be especially helpful in continuing our language revitalization work as we work remotely, using technology-based approach as required by social distancing to communicate with elders, staff, and families through webinars, online classes, digital study materials, and audio/video recordings.
“As always we truly appreciate this long-standing partnership with Running Strong for American Indian Youth.”