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Comanche Nation College language program looks to broaden audience

Officials at Comanche Nation College in Lawton hope to place parts of the college's computer-based Comanche language programs online. That effort is facilitated in part by the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network, which seeks to bring broadband access to rural Oklahoma.
by Silas Allen Published: January 6, 2013
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For example, he said, the program may display a sentence with two photos — one of an armadillo crossing a road, and another of an armadillo digging a hole, he said.

The student would select which photo matches the sentence on the screen.

In the coming months, college officials hope to put portions of the lessons on the college library's website, said Paula Lemons, the college's information technology director. That effort is facilitated in part by the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network, an initiative that seeks to bring broadband access to rural Oklahoma.

The project is a joint venture by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education's OneNet division, which serves as the state's telecommunications network for government and education.

The language project is funded through a $74 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration as part of the agency's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

The three agencies are providing broadband Internet access to 32 “community anchors” in underserved areas across the state, said Von Royal, executive director of OneNet. Included in those sites are college campuses and tribal offices.

The program just brought fiber optics to the college, which boosted the college's online capabilities, Lemons said.

“That kind of opened the door to limitless possibilities,” she said.

College officials hope to have portions of the computer-based lessons online by summer.

Keeping the Comanche language alive is an important piece of preserving the tribe's culture, McDaniels said.

Each language carries its own nuance, he said, and when one is lost, things as simple as jokes and stories may go along with it.

Although languages can be recorded in the written word, they only continue to live when people continue to speak them.

That's particularly true of Comanche, whose written form is less culturally important than its spoken form.

“You see the words on the page, but how is it pronounced?” he said. “What does it sound like?”

by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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