Final Thoughts

Well, the official period of my summer research may be over, but the work is far from being done. I will be extending the research I did this summer into my senior linguistics thesis, and I couldn’t be more excited. My goal in this research has always been to find a way to give back to the amazing community of speakers in Seminole Nation, so I hope that they will be able to find use for the videos I plan to transcribe and translate, and the book of musically-notated hymns I plan to produce. I feel that these materials will prove important, come the day when there are fewer and fewer elders/speakers who are able to share their knowledge and their language directly. I hope to continue to visit the Creek-speaking community for years to come (and possibility visit over this winter break!) and continue the relationships I made with the incredible people I met there. This summer research has given me the confidence and the direction to know that I want to continue in the field of documentational linguistics. When a line of work/research can feel both so enriching and empowering for both you and the community you are serving, you know you’ve found the right calling. I want to thank Jack Martin, everyone at the Pumvhakv School, all of our interviewees, Ryan, Michael, and everyone from Oklahoma I may have missed, as well as the Charles Center for enabling me to have such a beautiful and inspiring experience. Mvto (thank you)!

Weeks 6 & 7 in review

Summer Research Weeks 6 & 7

Week 6: August 9th-15th

Week 7: August 16th-22nd

Since my posts from week 5 were so long that they required three separate entries, I’ll be a bit more brief about my experiences in week 6. This was the last week that I was out in Oklahoma. Over the course of five days we conducted 9 different interviews with speakers from all over the region. I’ll give you a brief idea of what sorts of topics the speakers discussed:

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Week 5 Part 3 in review

Summer Research Week 5 Part 3

Week 5: August 2nd-8th

Saturday, August 8th

I had been looking forward to Saturday for quite a while because we were going to a hymn-singing convention at Wetumpka Baptist Church. The convention lasted from around noon to 5 o’clock in the evening. Individuals and groups from all different regional churches were in attendance, including a children’s singing group and an all-women’s choir who sang hymns of all different native languages. All of the hymns were in the Maskoke language. The convention was held outside, under the wooden arbor attached to the church. Jack, Ryan, and I sat on benches near the back and followed/sang along as best as we could with the help of our Maskoke-to English hymnals. It was beautiful hearing the variations in melody, pronunciation, and leadership style across the various groups. There were Baptists, Methodists, and even some Presbyterians (who, I hear, are a bit rare to find). Jack had leant me a Creek hymnal, and I spent my time trying to catch the titles when they were announced so that I could quickly look them up and follow along in the book before I became lost. I heard quite a lot of hymns that I hadn’t heard before, but also a fair number that I had. I was always excited when they began one I knew, because it meant I could sing along! The convention ended in a handshake circle, where everyone began by exiting the arbor and standing in a huge circle on the grass. One by one, everyone in the circle filed past one another and shook each other’s hands, all the while singing hymns. It was truly a beautiful, inspiring, and eye-opening afternoon.

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Week 5 Part 2 in review

Summer Research Week 5 Part 2

Week 5: August 2nd-8th

Thursday, August 6th

I realize I haven’t mentioned anything yet about my music project, so here’s a little update. The music project has essentially 3 parts. The first involves the transcription and translation of the audio from videos that were recorded last summer of Creek-speaker J.M. singing hymns. My job has been to edit and segment the videos, and then provide transcriptions and translation of the hymns using SayMore, a transcription software. Part 2 involves musically notating the hymns, writing down music notes that match the melodies of the hymns. And Part 3, the part that’s going to take much more research back at school, involves drafting relevant and interesting interview questions, and interviewing community members about hymns, the hymn-singing tradition, and the speakers’ relationships to the hymns. I’m hoping to return to Oklahoma over winter break to finish this part of the research. I’ve realized (and maybe you have too) that as I go, the project develops and changes as I narrow my focus, my research questions, and my direction.

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Week 5 Part 1 in review

Summer Research Week 5 Part 1

Week 5: August 2nd-8th

Saturday, August 1st-Sunday, August 2nd

I flew out Saturday morning early in the AM and landed in Oklahoma City around noon. I would be working for the next two weeks alongside Jack Martin, my major advisor from W&M, and a student from Princeton named Ryan. I had met Ryan at a summer conference last summer and was excited to get to know him better and have a research partner/buddy. We drove east to Okemah, a small Oklahoman town, where we spent Saturday and Sunday. Since it was the weekend and we had some free time, we took a day trip to Oklahoma City, where we visited the Bricktown area and the memorial site for the Oklahoma City bombing. It was nice having a few days before we started in with the research to get comfortable with each other. Jack and I also spent some time the first weekend outlining what my research project would look like (although it seems to have been constantly shifting in its focus the whole trip-but that’s a good thing!). When deciding what I wanted to do for my project it was always important to me that there be some level of service. By this I mean that I wanted my research to benefit the members of the community we were working in. I hope that by creating videos and musical records of hymns in the community that I can do just that.

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