Welcome to the Where Are Your Keys? 2011 Summer Institute of Play!

This summer the WAYK interns and I have been living and breathing “Where Are Your Keys”.  We have been facilitating an 8 week Numu (Northern Paiute) language teacher training on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon.

Working in partnership with the Warm Springs Language Department, the Warm Springs WED (youth work force development) program, the Warm Springs Community Action Team, and the Central Oregon non-profit Partnership to end Poverty, we are creating 7 high-school-aged teachers.  These young teachers are learning techniques, hunting language, building “rides”, and teaching other community members how to learn and teach the Numu language.

The Summer Institute of Play 2011 has been head quartered in Madras Oregon just south of Warm Springs.  The house was rented and furnished in true WAYK “OBVIOUSLY!” style.  You can think of it as Amish Kindergarten… sparse, but clear, bright, solid colored objects.

Each of the 3 interns has their own color coded room: Red, Green and Black.  Each room came with corresponding colored sheets, blankets, towels, curtains, desk lamps, laundry basket, clothes hangers and stapler.  The kitchen was populated with color coded dishware to clearly coincide with the room color.   The set-up for conversations is perfect: “You stole my red bowl!”

The shared living room and bathroom are a rainbow of obvious colors.

Now let’s meet the interns:

In the Red Room,

April Charlo is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, located on the Flathead reservation near Missoula, Montana.  April’s commitment to restoring her tribal language motivated her to pursue a master’s degree in Education Leadership from the University of Montana.  April intends to utilize her knowledge and experience to aid in the recovery and revitalization of Native Languages.

After graduating, April was introduced to Evan Gardner and the “Where Are You Keys?” concept.  After only one short demonstration of “Where Are Your Keys?”, she signed up for the Summer Institute of Play internship.  April has also recently graduated from the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship and has been experimenting with combining her new facilitation and community building skills with her understanding of working with Native youth.  April sees the massive potential of incorporating community building methods into the “Where Are You Keys?” language learning techniques.

In the Green Room,

David Edwards is an undergraduate student at Stanford University, working on an interdisciplinary major between the computer science, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy departments. He got interested in languages in middle school when he tried inventing one for fun; that led him to research other world languages, which fostered an interest in language revitalization and Native North American languages in particular. He discovered “Where Are Your Keys?” in March of 2010 and quickly became addicted to “language hunting,” sharing the system with friends in classrooms and workshops in California, Colorado, and Mongolia. Just recently he returned from a study abroad program in China and is looking forward to further expanding his cultural horizons while helping to strengthen the languages of the Warm Springs community.

In the black room,

Sky Hopinka is of the Hochunk Nation and Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.  He has been interning with Evan and “Where Are Your Keys?” since February, 2011, and learning Chinuk Wawa, which he will apply to his university foreign language requirement.  Sky is graduating in the fall from Portland State University with a BA in English and minor in film studies.  Currently, he is interning with the “Where Are Your Keys?” Summer Institute of Play through the Indigenous Nations Studies department (formerly Native American Studies) at PSU.  After graduating, he plans to work in filmmaking and with WAYK in learning and teaching the Hochunk and Luiseno languages.

This summer has been a fantastic experience and experiment in rapid community language revitalization.  We have shared so many techniques of accelerated learning between the students, interns, and language department staff.  We hope future Institutes will be even more successful as we share ideas with future interns.  If you are interested in participating as an intern please contact WAYK at evan@whereareyourkeys.org.

Keep a look out for the podcast where we discuss our successes and challenges of language revitalization and community revitalization.

Written by Evan Gardner



Congratulation to David Edwards for having made the “electrifying” Mandarin video that I use as a reference to show people the ‘power’ of wayk !!
These videos are so useful for us, far from your place… in the outbacks of Québec.

David E

Thanks, Claude! I’m glad you’ve found the video useful. Evan and I played Mandarin during some downtime this summer–we should have a video of it posted soon!

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