ilaatawaakani Project



  • Daryl Baldwin, Director, Myaamia Center
  • Dr. David Costa, Program Director, Language Research Office
  • Dr. Douglas Troy, Computer Science
  • Andrew J. Strack, Program Director, Tech. and Publications Office
  • Carole Katz, Transcriptionist
  • Michael McCafferty, French Translations
  • Xianli Sun, CSE Graduate Student
  • Kristen Kasberg and Kristina Fox


Visit the Miami Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA)!

In August of 2012, the Myaamia Center was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant funded through the Documenting Endangered Languages program of the National Science Foundation. The project, originally entitled “Inokaatawaakani,” is designed to transcribe, translate, and make available the contents of a document called the LeBoullenger dictionary. It is an 18th century Miami-Illinois language document that contains 185 pages of Miami-Illinois to French language.

The objective of the three-year funded project is to make the data contained within the LeBoullenger document available and useful to students of the Myaamia language, researchers, and the general public. Due to the early time period in which the dictionary was compiled (1720 – 1725), Myaamia Center researchers expect to find important cultural and language information that directly contributes to our community revitalization efforts. Early examinations of the LeBoullenger dictionary show information about Myaamia uses of plants, seasonal activities, and diet, as well as climate information.

The original document has been scanned by the John Carter Brown Library (where it is permanently housed) and digital files have been sent to Myaamia Center researchers. Carole Katz was hired as project transcriptionist.  Carole’s position is funded through the grant and she will be working for the next three years to transcribe the information from the original document and organize the data for translation.

As Carole completes the transcription work it is then passed onto Michael McCafferty from Indiana University at Bloomington. Michael specializes in New World French and will be handling the French to English translations. After Michael completes his work, Dr. David Costa will translate the Miami-Illinois. As the grant moves along, an online database will be implemented to permanently archive the information gleaned from the document, including modern Myaamia translations, along with the original data. This database is being developed by Xianli Sun, a computer science graduate student at Miami University under the direction of Dr. Douglas Troy. Dr. Troy has been assisting the Myaamia Center on computer-based projects over the last several years.

The project has grown beyond its initial goals.  Because transcription and translation work has been happening so quickly, the Center sought and gained approval from NEH to include another document.  The Gravier document is nearly completely transcribed.  It will be included in the online database as well.  Because of the wider scope, the project will now be referred to as “ilaatawaakani – language book” as opposed to “ikonkaatawaakani – Illinois language book.”

This three-year funded project resulted in a searchable website, the Miami Illinois Digital Archive that includes an image of the original document, French to English, and Miami-Illinois to English. The Miami-Illinois translations will continue well beyond the three year grant goal, and will be releasing new information well into the future.

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