Kiowa elders have sustained the language, history, and culture of their people for centuries through conversation, oral history, story, and song. The fluency today’s elders learned by listening to their parents and grandparents is an invaluable and increasingly rare gift. While the current generation of Kiowa elders includes individuals who grew up in environments where the Kiowa language was spoken fluently and the oral tradition still thrived, younger generations of Kiowas no longer share this experience. Instead, they are surrounded by technologies that do not yet reflect Kiowa values or practices. This project aims to bridge this gap.
With the help and commitment of these elders, Kiowatalk.org is an effort to bring Kiowa language and culture into the digital environment. This online video archive of Kiowa basic sounds and vocabulary, terms and phrases, stories, and songs is meant to serve as a permanent resource for Kiowa language and culture. This project extends the knowledge these elders retain into digital space by making it available to a wide audience of tribal members, with the goal of strengthening language revitalization efforts via a publicly available, easy-to-use, and interactive website.
Kiowatalk.org has been created with the help of several honored elders in the Kiowa community in and near Anadarko, Oklahoma. It uses the writing system Alecia Keahbone Gonzales developed with the help of Dorothy Whitehorse DeLaune, Milton Noel, and Doris J. Poolaw.
Ms. Gonzales (1926 – 2011) held a Masters of Arts in speech pathology and devoted many years of her professional life to developing the textbook Thaum Khoiye Tdoen Gyah: Beginning Kiowa Language, published by the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and used in the Anadarko High School and USAO Kiowa language classes, both of which Ms. Gonzales taught. The book is available through the USAO bookstore, (405)-574-1304.
In the long-term, this project also seeks to build upon the initial archive by adding more videos and including more elders and community members interested in contributing to the ongoing practice of their language. The project team hopes to sponsor video and digital skills development within the Kiowa community through hands-on training so that community members can continue the work of the project by adding to the archive well into the future.