UW gets grant for Eastern Shoshone database


LARAMIE, Wyo. – A $200,000 National Science Foundation grant will help create a database of the Eastern Shoshone language for the University of Wyoming’s American Indian Studies Program.

The UW program recently received the grant from the NSF’s Documenting Endangered Languages initiative. The grant will fund a two-year program in partnership with the Eastern Shoshone Tribe to create a lexical database of the language.

Judith Antell, AIS director, and Reba Teran, Eastern Shoshone language project coordinator, are joint principal investigators for the project. Linguistic anthropologist David Shaul will work with Teran and a panel of Eastern Shoshone elders to create the database.

“The database will include digital recordings of words, sample phrases and sentences, transcriptions of the digital recordings and English translations of the materials,” Antell said.

Teran worked from 2002 to 2007 with Shoshone elders Beatrice Haukaas, Manfred Guina and Roberta Engavo, to digitally record 14,000 Eastern Shoshone words and transcribed 9,000 of them.

Her work will be incorporated into the project, along with early written records of Eastern Shoshone that are housed at the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institute and also at UW’s American Heritage Center. Additionally, the work of the late UW professor emeritus Anne Slater will be included in the project.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe will preserve one copy of the finished database and the American Heritage Center will also preserve another.

“The database will provide the basis for the future development of additional Eastern Shoshone language and teaching materials,” Antell said.