On Saturday, March 3rd, Aaron Leon (President of the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn) and David Lacho (recent Master’s graduate at UBC Okanagan) presented several books and the app Tuwítames at the Secwepemc Language Film Festival and Book Fair. The event was held at Thompson Rivers University at the Irving K. Barber Centre, a lecture hall designed as a Secwepemc Kekuli winter house.
The event, organized by the Adams Lake Indian Band and Chief Atahm School, was well attended by members of the Secwepemc Nation. The events included a book fair, and film screenings in Secwepemctsín. The app and the books were well received by Secwepemc attendees.
Aaron Leon presented many of the books that the Tsm7aksaltn has published over the years, including the Sounds of Secwepemc book, a pronunciation guide of the Secwepemc language, which can also be found on YouTube (https://youtu.be/l23LOp0OUys).
Aaron and David also presented the app, Tuwítames. The app emerges from 2 ½ years of community collaboration and engagement between Elders, community members, staff that work at the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn, and David Lacho. The app features traditional Secwepemc stories and, through Augmented Reality technology.
The Secwepemctsín language as a whole is endangered and has 1,190 semi-speakers, although Splatsin’s Secwepemctsín dialect is further endangered because less than 1% of over 800 of its band members are speakers. According to the Language Needs Assessment of the First Peoples’ Heritage Language & Culture Council, in 2014 there were 8 speakers that understood Secwepemctsín fluently, all of whom are over the age of 65. Many speakers have since passed away.
The books and the app reflect years of work in documenting and revitalizing Splatsin’s unique dialect of Secwepemctsín. The language of Splatsin is an Eastern Dialect of Secwepemctsín (Shuswap) language, of the Interior Salish language family. The Kikia7a have stressed that it is important to continue documenting and teaching the unique features of Splatsin’s dialect. The Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn has been involved in language revitalization projects since the early 1970’s and have experienced many different methods for teaching. Every Monday since 1998, we have met once a week to speak our language, document and teach. Our method is simple as told by our elder Marie David “wrap the language around the babies”.
The app is currently under development and will be released in the near future.