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.

Monday, August 3rd

On Monday we got up early and drove from Okemah to Seminole, where the Pumvhakv Language School is located. First, I need to describe a little bit about the school and the program and students we were working with .The school has recently begun a master-apprentice mentorship program for their older, more advanced students. In this program, three college-aged students will be paired with three older, fluent speakers from the community. The pairs work together to transcribe and translate video recordings of speakers speaking in Maskoke. Where we, the outside linguists, com in is by helping to recruit and record these speakers, as well as provide the students with the technology and technological skills to type up the transcriptions and translations and eventually burn them into the original videos. For an example video of what a final video might look like, go to this website –> http://lingspace.wm.edu/lingspace/creek/texts/mus16002/

We met up with the students Monday morning to help teach them how to use the software for transcription (called SayMore). They picked it up quickly and seemed really excited about the project! In the afternoon we made a recording of speaker L.B., who works for the school. In the videos she discusses her childhood and growing up, what it was like on hog-slaughtering day, and she sang us a lullaby. In these videos, we want to try to capture little pieces of Muscogee culture so that in years to come, people will not forget their heritage and traditions. Over the course of the two weeks of interviews conducted, we tried to ask interviewees about their childhoods, what it was like growing up in the 30s and 40s, any stories they remember being told, and, of particular interest to me, any hymns they may want to record.


Tuesday, August 4th.

On Tuesday we drove to Wewoka Indian Baptist Church in Wewoka (the capitol of Seminole Nation) to interview J.H. In the interviews, L.B., who I mentioned earlier, would sit with the speakers and prompt/interview them, in Creek, with questions. We would typically conduct a pre-interview with the speaker beforehand so that L. had an idea of what types of questions to ask. J.H. in her interview spoke about growing up during the Depression, being pulled out of school at age 6, and starting her own business, among other topics. Before continuing I want to mention Michael McCarty, the videographer who filmed the speakers. His videos are absolutely beautiful, and the project couldn’t have happened without him. After the interview we all went out to lunch and had a great time hearing J.H. laugh, joke, and tell stories.


Wednesday, August 5th

This will be my last entry for this post since it’s getting pretty long. On Wednesday we had no interview scheduled, so Ryan adn I got to work on a language-learning phont/computer app. We used a website called Memrise (http://www.memrise.com/home/), which helps you create flashcards using audio and visual files. The lesson we created were part of a “Maskoke for Kids” program, designed for younger learners and speakers or the language (or beginners like us). We created around 3 lesson on Wednesday, one on colors, one on numbers, and one on shapes. Here’s hoping that the kids do better on the quizzes than I did! A link to the Maskoke for Kids Memrise page is below.