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Woman will teach Shoshone at UW

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2008/04/11/news/wyoming/5b072c1d7 b8345d78725742700773cab.txt Woman will teach Shoshone at UW By CHRIS MERRILL
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2008

      Woman will teach Shoshone at UW

      Star-Tribune staff writer

      Friday, April 11, 2008 12:13 PM MDT

      FORT WASHAKIE -- Although she spoke Shoshone until the age of 6, it has
      taken years for Reba Teran, now 50, to feel fluent again.

      Now that she does, she will teach an introductory Eastern Shoshone language
      course at the University of Wyoming beginning this fall.

      As the language coordinator for the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center on the
      Wind River Indian Reservation, Teran has been working with tribal elders
      for almost six years to produce a written and digital-audio dictionary of
      the Eastern Shoshone language.

      In that time she has reconnected with her first tongue, and she has again
      begun dreaming in Shoshone -- a language that is more descriptive, colorful
      and emotional than English is, she said.

      In addition to the dictionary project, which has been a huge undertaking
      for her and three tribal elders, Teran has also developed an eight-CD audio
      book for basic Shoshone-language instruction.

      The Shoshone language class will be part of UW's American Indian studies
      program, and co-sponsored by the modern and classical languages department.

      The university has offered instruction in Northern Arapaho since 2005,
      taught by Wayne C'Hair, and now with Teran's class, both tribal languages
      from the Wind River reservation will be taught at the school.

      Students can fulfill UW's language requirement with two semesters of the
      Eastern Shoshone language, just as they can with two semesters of the
      Northern Arapaho language and others.

      Teran left Wyoming when she was 14 to go to boarding school in South
      Dakota, and when she was a sophomore in high school she started the Upward
      Bound program at the University of Wyoming. She went on to get both a
      bachelor's and a master's degree at Utah State University.

      Teran said she wanted to return to the Wind River reservation immediately
      after college, but she had to wait several years before that became a

      "I came home looking for a job and I could not find anything, so I had to
      leave," Teran said. "I finally came back in 2002 and was hired to work here
      at the cultural center, and that's when I began working with (the elders).
      I was hired in July, and by August we were already working with our

      Before returning home, Teran had already started her dictionary project
      while working temporarily at an oil refinery. She started by writing down
      all of the animals she knew in Shoshone -- starting with "bear," which she
      wrote, phonetically, like this: "ah.gwy."

      "On breaks, I had this little notebook, and I would write all the words
      that I knew," she said. "I still have this little notebook that's all
      greasy and oily."

      The Eastern Shoshone language class will be held on weekends at UW, so once
      a week Teran will have to make the drive from Fremont County to Laramie and
      back again, just as C'Hair does.

      "I talked to Wayne C'Hair, and he said it's manageable," she said. "I'm
      just a little concerned about making the trip in the winter."
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