Blackfoot Syllabics with Sheldon First Rider



Since 2018, Sheldon First Rider has spearheaded a Blackfoot Language program at Glenbow which is offered as part of the museum’s Indigenous Studies school program. In his eight years as an educator at Glenbow, he estimates that Indigenous programming has collectively reached approximately 150,000 students, 12 – 15,000 of those in the more recently introduced Blackfoot Language program.

June 17, 2020

Blackfoot Elder and Glenbow educator Sheldon First Rider recorded this video in January 2020 to demonstrate the use of the syllabic alphabet in teaching the Blackfoot language.

The 86-character syllabic alphabet which First Rider teaches was originally developed by Seqouoyah (1765 – 1843) in the nineteenth century as a means of reading and writing Cherokee; the only known person to have invented a whole alphabet, Seqouyah labored over its creation for over a decade before formally introducing the Cherokee syllabary in 1820. The alphabet was later adapted into Cree, Ojibway and, of course, Blackfoot.

You can learn more about First Rider’s Blackfoot language program and his own personal story here.

We are so grateful to Sheldon for giving us permission to share this video for our #GlenbowFromHome series during Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary (June 15 – 21, 2020).

About Glenbow From Home

We’re creating opportunities for you to experience art outside of Glenbow’s walls. We know that having access to art and culture is an important part of our daily lives, so you can access Glenbow online anytime — through these virtual tours, online collections, educational videos, activity ideas, webinars and more.

Let’s stay connected! ❤️

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