Language app helps preserve Arapaho history

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ARAPAHOE, Wyo. (KCWY) -- Arapaho tribal members now have a smartphone and tablet app designed to help preserve a dying part of their history.

Recently, more than 400 people gathered at a Wyoming school to celebrate technology and history.

“This is a milestone event; this is something that hasn’t happened with the Arapaho language ever. It’s taken many years to get where we are today,” said Kenneth Crowson, superintendent of the Fremont County School District.

The Arapaho language app is free to everyone, and will be used as a teaching tool in Wind River Reservation schools.

“It’s our intent to try and integrate it in with the core curriculum, not to replace anything, but to enhance the current curriculums that we have,” Crowson said.

“It’s very important that our native kids know where they come from, where they’re going," said Charlene Gambler Brown, the school board chairwoman. "It’s going to help them succeed in higher education.”

Technology is such a large part of kids’ lives, this app will be easy for them to pick up and quickly learn.

“Technology is the way our kids learn today, and so to integrate that into our classrooms and have another avenue for them to pick up another piece of technology and learn a language, that’s just phenomenal,” Crowson said.

“In order to preserve our language, revitalize it, we decided this is their world," Gamber Brown explained. "Technology is our children’s world right now, so let’s put that in their hand so it can be in every person's home.”

Tribal elders dedicated over a year of their time to voice every word and phrase for the app.

“This is all possible because without the elders, we would not be here today, and so we are just so excited to have everybody come here to help us celebrate,” Gambler Brown said.

The app took over 1,250 hours to complete.

There are 10,000 Arapaho tribal members on the Wind River Indian Reservation, but only 150 speak fluent Arapaho.

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