Four Bodies Writing: Documenting and Revitalizing the Rocky Boy Cree Language and the Graphic Design Process
AuthorBig Knife, Kaylene Jay
KeywordsChippewa Cree Tribe
Indigenous Graphic Design
Indigenous Language Revitalization
Rocky Boy Reservation
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Chippewa Cree Tribe resides in northcentral Montana on the Rocky Boy Reservation, and the tribe is the only Cree-speaking community in the United States. Although there are two heritage languages present in the community, Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Cree, Cree is the language of interaction throughout the homes, community events, cultural gatherings, and the schools from pre-school to college level. Since the Cree language contains multiple dialects, Cree-speaking communities have different ways of speaking and writing. Cree writing systems exist in the form of syllabaries, and therefore, literacy is a crucial component of second language acquisition. Thus, the Cree language does not have to rely on Standard Roman Orthography (SRO) for written communication; SRO refers to the English written counterparts that represent each syllabic character’s audible sound (Ogg, 2017). Despite the lack of existing data, the number of fluent Cree syllabic writers in Rocky Boy is at a critically lower level than Cree language speakers. This paper focuses on the phonetic documentation and investigation of Cree syllabaries from the Plains Cree dialect, the history and oral traditions of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s syllabary, the creation of Cree language learning materials (curriculum), and the impact of the graphic design process. The Cree syllabary is held to a high degree of sacredness by the Chippewa Cree Tribe, and so my voice will be interjected throughout my research. My voice is necessary as I am a Chippewa Cree tribal member, and therefore a caretaker of the language and syllabary. The last section is a discussion around Indigenous graphic design and the influential role of graphic designers in Indigenous language documentation and revitalization efforts. Some personal insights into the graphic design field and online learning opportunities will also be shared. In conclusion, my Cree language research is meant to build forward to a better future where Rocky Boy has, again, first-language speakers and writers of Cree.
Degree ProgramGraduate College