INDIAN READING SERIES: Signing and singing at Cayuse Prairie

‘When the story survives, humanity survives’

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Seventh grader Nikki Thatcher and other members of Jennie Cumbane's class learn the sign language they'll be performing with Rob and Halladay Quist and Mariah Gladstone at a concert at Cayuse Prairie on Thursday, October 22. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Music, literature and language came together Tuesday in an educational collaboration among Mariah Gladstone, a descendant of the Blackfeet Nation, and musicians Halladay and Rob Quist.

The trio were tasked with interpreting stories from the “Indian Reading Series: Stories and Legends of the Northwest,” through American Indian Sign Language and original music — and teaching it to Cayuse Prairie students.

The Quists wrote and recorded several songs that Gladstone interpreted in American Indian Sign Language. First- through eighth-graders have been learning the songs and sign language for more than a week.

On Tuesday, Gladstone stood in front of a group of seventh-graders in Jennie Cumbane’s Montana History class. Gladstone raised her hands to sign a song called “Birds and People” as Halladay Quist strummed her guitar and sang while the students did their best to follow along.

Gladstone also made videos for students who wanted to practice more after school.

“The kids pick it up fast,” Gladstone said. “The signs are representations of what you would see in nature.”

Gladstone noted that American Indian Sign Language is more or less translating pictures rather than directly from an alphabet or language. American Indian Sign Language was a universal language among the hundreds of languages spoken by tribes, according to Gladstone.

“American Indian Sign Language covered approximately two-thirds of the North American continent, so you’re looking at 500 to 700 different languages of people who could intercommunicate using one set of hand gestures,” Gladstone said.

The Indian Reading Series project was possible through a state Indian Education For All grant. The application was written by Cayuse Prairie Special Education teacher Kathy Manley-Coburn.

“The Indian Reading Series is near and dear to my heart it was my husband Joe Coburn’s project at the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Portland many years ago,” Manley-Coburn said, noting that the series was written in the 1970s and involved the participation of numerous tribes to write and authenticate roughly 140 American Indian stories.

“I’ve used them for years in my teaching. I was afraid they were being put on the back shelf, so I thought it would be a great way to revive interest — a fresh approach,” Manley-Coburn said. “When the story survives, humanity survives.”

The project will culminate with a free student performance at 2 p.m. Thursday at Cayuse Prairie School.

Music, literature and language came together Tuesday in an educational collaboration among Mariah Gladstone, a descendant of the Blackfeet Nation, and musicians Halladay and Rob Quist.

The trio were tasked with interpreting stories from the “Indian Reading Series: Stories and Legends of the Northwest,” through American Indian Sign Language and original music — and teaching it to Cayuse Prairie students.

The Quists wrote and recorded several songs that Gladstone interpreted in American Indian Sign Language. First- through eighth-graders have been learning the songs and sign language for more than a week.

On Tuesday, Gladstone stood in front of a group of seventh-graders in Jennie Cumbane’s Montana History class. Gladstone raised her hands to sign a song called “Birds and People” as Halladay Quist strummed her guitar and sang while the students did their best to follow along.

Gladstone also made videos for students who wanted to practice more after school.

“The kids pick it up fast,” Gladstone said. “The signs are representations of what you would see in nature.”

Gladstone noted that American Indian Sign Language is more or less translating pictures rather than directly from an alphabet or language. American Indian Sign Language was a universal language among the hundreds of languages spoken by tribes, according to Gladstone.

“American Indian Sign Language covered approximately two-thirds of the North American continent, so you’re looking at 500 to 700 different languages of people who could intercommunicate using one set of hand gestures,” Gladstone said.

The Indian Reading Series project was possible through a state Indian Education For All grant. The application was written by Cayuse Prairie Special Education teacher Kathy Manley-Coburn.

“The Indian Reading Series is near and dear to my heart it was my husband Joe Coburn’s project at the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Portland many years ago,” Manley-Coburn said, noting that the series was written in the 1970s and involved the participation of numerous tribes to write and authenticate roughly 140 American Indian stories.

“I’ve used them for years in my teaching. I was afraid they were being put on the back shelf, so I thought it would be a great way to revive interest — a fresh approach,” Manley-Coburn said. “When the story survives, humanity survives.”

The project will culminate with a free student performance at 2 p.m. Thursday at Cayuse Prairie School.

Music, literature and language came together Tuesday in an educational collaboration among Mariah Gladstone, a descendant of the Blackfeet Nation, and musicians Halladay and Rob Quist.

The trio were tasked with interpreting stories from the “Indian Reading Series: Stories and Legends of the Northwest,” through American Indian Sign Language and original music — and teaching it to Cayuse Prairie students.

The Quists wrote and recorded several songs that Gladstone interpreted in American Indian Sign Language. First- through eighth-graders have been learning the songs and sign language for more than a week.

On Tuesday, Gladstone stood in front of a group of seventh-graders in Jennie Cumbane’s Montana History class. Gladstone raised her hands to sign a song called “Birds and People” as Halladay Quist strummed her guitar and sang while the students did their best to follow along.

Gladstone also made videos for students who wanted to practice more after school.

“The kids pick it up fast,” Gladstone said. “The signs are representations of what you would see in nature.”

Gladstone noted that American Indian Sign Language is more or less translating pictures rather than directly from an alphabet or language. American Indian Sign Language was a universal language among the hundreds of languages spoken by tribes, according to Gladstone.

“American Indian Sign Language covered approximately two-thirds of the North American continent, so you’re looking at 500 to 700 different languages of people who could intercommunicate using one set of hand gestures,” Gladstone said.

The Indian Reading Series project was possible through a state Indian Education For All grant. The application was written by Cayuse Prairie Special Education teacher Kathy Manley-Coburn.

“The Indian Reading Series is near and dear to my heart it was my husband Joe Coburn’s project at the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Portland many years ago,” Manley-Coburn said, noting that the series was written in the 1970s and involved the participation of numerous tribes to write and authenticate roughly 140 American Indian stories.

“I’ve used them for years in my teaching. I was afraid they were being put on the back shelf, so I thought it would be a great way to revive interest — a fresh approach,” Manley-Coburn said. “When the story survives, humanity survives.”

The project will culminate with a free student performance at 2 p.m. Thursday at Cayuse Prairie School.

Mariah Gladstone teaches sign language to students at Cayuse Prairie on Thursday, October 20. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

 

Halladay Quist, right, and Mariah Gladstone, left, teach songs to seventh graders in Jennie Cumbane's class on Tuesday, October 20, at Cayuse Prairie. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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