Community , Culture

Osage Language app, Wahzhazhe, ready for download

The Osage Nation Language app, Wahzhazhe, is live and ready for download to the device of your choice.

The app features the new Osage Unicode Orthography, with 500 entries separated into more than 30 categories – with options of games, quizzes and learning tools within. The app aids the user with the spelling and sounds of the language, with the voices of Herman Mongrain Lookout and Stephanie Rapp pronouncing each word and sound. The app also features notes on the Osage culture, with audio, images, and video.

“The app gives the Osage Nation a world stage to display and share our language and culture,” said Lookout, Master Teacher for the Osage Language Department, and its founder. “It gives our people a creative and fun way to practice the language with audio, images, games, recording capabilities and quizzes.”

Three years in the making, the app is a user-friendly learning tool and is the product of years of collaboration among Osage language teachers, Osage Nation staff, and Osage leadership. The language department used Las Vegas-based Thornton Media LLC for the creation and development of the app.

Osage employees, students from the Osage Language Immersion School and other Osage community members had their photos taken for use in the app on Oct. 24.

“Don’t let your Osage language learning and practice stop with the app,” said Osage language staff. “Practice using the language with your family in your homes, with your friends and community. App users can challenge your peers and share your quiz results via email.”

A long journey

Lookout has said one of the things he likes about the Osage orthography is that it is part English. It is dedicated to Osage sounds but is based on the English alphabet. The 36-character orthography was developed in 2004 by Lookout and his staff.

Getting the orthography approved by the Unicode Consortium so it could appear online on any operating system in the world was a dream for the language staff that became a reality in 2014. The Consortium accepted the orthography later that year and it was included in Unicode version 9.0. Shortly thereafter the Fourth Osage Nation Congress passed a resolution (sponsored by Congresswoman Angela Pratt) to make the Osage orthography the official language of the Osage Nation. 

To make the orthography adaptable to Unicode, slight changes were made to the orthography. Since that time, the Nation has been busy updating its signage around campus. The language department and Osage Language Immersion School now use the updated orthography that appears in the app to teach its students.

The language department offers courses for children, adult beginners, intermediate and advanced in five locations, as well as a popular online course. The language center in Pawhuska has four classrooms, a media center, a conference room, a recording studio and seven offices for staff.

For more information about the Osage Language Department or its classes, call (918) 287-5505. To sign up for online classes, visit: www.osagelanguage.com