Libraries Launch Groundbreaking Online Ojibwe Dictionary
More than just a translation tool or a dictionary, the Ojibwe People's Dictionary provides context. Within the Ojibwe dictionary, objects "are in conversation with the language..."
Minneapolis-St. Paul (February 29, 2012)--The University of Minnesota Libraries, in partnership with the University's Department of American Indian Studies and the Minnesota Historical Society, have launched a ground-breaking online Ojibwe-English dictionary, The Ojibwe People's Dictionary, at http://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/.
The Ojibwe People's Dictionary was conceived as a logical expansion of "A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe," published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press and co-authored by John D. Nichols, professor in the American Indian Studies department and one of the foremost Algonquian language experts.
Nichols approached Jason Roy, director of Digital Library Services, to move the print dictionary into a dynamic, online environment, which allowed for many more entries: the printed dictionary contained 7,000 words, but the new online version has 30,000 and is growing.
The Libraries were honored to lead the software and interface development for the dictionary," said Associate University Librarian John Butler. "The project uniquely demonstrates how the Libraries work with faculty and researchers to support new forms of scholarship."
More than just a translation tool or a dictionary, the Ojibwe People's Dictionary provides context. The entry for wild rice, for example, includes audio clips of 4 Ojibwe elders speaking the word manoomin, photos from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and snippets from texts including meeting minutes, reports and research manuscripts dating from 1922.
Within the Ojibwe dictionary, objects "are in conversation with the language," said Brenda Child, chair of the Department of American Indian studies at the University. It's a way of establishing cultural context through language. By merging the academic expertise of University scholars like Professor Nichols with the visual resources of the Historical Society and others, the site is both casual and scholarly, cutting edge and useful to Native people who speak the language.
Significant funding for the Ojibwe People's Dictionary came from the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The project has just been awarded another grant to support phase 2 of the dictionary, which will incorporate feedback from users, enhance the virtual museum and add youth-friendly features.