Free Arapaho videos: how do I get them?

The University of Colorado (CSILW) just finished a project to video, translate, subtitle and show the word break-down for hundreds of hours of Arapaho conversations, paid for and currently archived at the University of London’s Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project (  The elders to whom this site is dedicated — Zona Moss, Bobby Joe Goggles, and Ed Underwood — are in many of the videos.  They are fantastic to learn from, and you can get them for free by requesting them.  Here’s how to do it.

1. Download, install and open the free Endangered Language Annotation software (ELAN) from the Max Planck Institute, here:

2. Email me a request for an ELAN file with a video (

3. Follow the directions here:


Easy to read?!! With Sound Files

Fascinating old stories with CDs and video are available at CSILWI realized in order to use the idea of taping up words to memorize how to say them, you’ve got to be able to read.  It’s worth the investment to bother, I promise, because you can also read the dictionary and tons of fascinating old stories and biographies from CSILW For Sale at this site:

It’s actually a lot quicker to learn to read in Arapaho than it seems like it would be — the only sounds not in English are x (like the German sound at the end of Bach) and a glottal stop symbolized by ‘ that sounds like the sound in the middle of the English word uh-oh.  It is also a tonal language, which makes the big long words easy to mispronounce until you memorize where the ups and downs go.  The c sounds like ch and the 3 sounds like th in bath (never like th in that).  The vowel letters have different meanings than in English but they stay the same way more often than English ones do, so scroll down to see them.   Here’s a complete description from CSILW:

Writing and Reading Arapaho


b pronounced like English b in most cases, more like p word finally, pre-consonantally, and preceding h.
Example: bee’éé’ ‘it is red’
c pronounced similarly to English gi as in ‘giant’ most of the time, but more like ch in ‘child’ word finally, pre-consonantally, and preceding h
[linguistic detail: actually an aspirated ch; not actually an English g(i)]
Example: ce’ínihii ‘say it again!’
Example: koobééc ‘is it snowing?’
h pronounced as in English
Example: hee’ínowoo ‘I know it’
k pronounced similarly to English g in good, but sounds more like k word finally, pre-consonantally and preceding h.
[linguistic detail: actually an unaspirated k; not actually an English g]
Example: koobééc ‘is it snowing?’
Example: nóókohut ‘s/he is sleeping’
n pronounced as in English
Example: nii’cóó’ ‘it tastes good’
s pronounced as in English ‘sit’
Example: neniisí3éinoo ‘I am working’
t pronounced similarly to English d in ‘did’, but sounds more like t word finally, pre-consonantally, and preceding h
[linguistic detail: actually an unaspirated t; not actually an English d]
Example: tous ‘hello’
Example: bíixúút ‘shirt’
3 pronounced as in English ‘three’, though sometimes closer to ‘the’
Example: wo3onohóe ‘paper’
Example: bíí3wo ‘food’
w pronounced as in English
Example: wohéí ‘okay!’
x pronounced like ch in German ‘lach’, or like Greek X
Example: wóxhoox ‘horse’
y pronounced as in English
Example: neyéi3éíno’óowu’ ‘school’
is a glottal stop – what you hear in English “uh oh” between the “uh” and “oh”
Example: hiwo’óhno ‘his/her shoes’

Arapaho vowels can have three different pitch accents, as well as two different lengths. Vowels can be long or short, and they can have high, normal or falling pitch accent (the latter only on long vowels). There are are also three diphthongs in Arapaho, and these two can be long or short.


e pronounced like English e in ‘set’
Example: beníi3béen ‘you are cooking’
Example: heneenétit ‘s/he is talking’
i pronounced like English i in ‘sit’
Example: ce’ínihii ‘say it again!’
Example: heneenétit ‘s/he is talking’
o prnounced like English o is ‘hot’
Example: hee’ínowoo ‘I know it’
Example: wóxhoox ‘horse’
u pronounced similarly to English u in ‘put’
Example: wooxuse’ ‘it has gone bad/gotten rotten’
Example: nóókohut ‘s/he is sleeping’
ee pronounced longer than e
Example: heneenétit ‘s/he is talking’
Example: bee’éé’ ‘it is red’
ii pronounced longer than i, and sounding more like ee in ‘feet’
Example: neniisí3éinoo ‘I am working’
Example: bíixuut ‘shirt’
Example: nii’cóó’ ‘it tastes good’
Example: tóotousííni ‘how are things?’
oo pronounced longer than o
Example: wóxhoox ‘horse’
Example: koobééc ‘is it snowing?’
Example: nii’cóó’ ‘it tastes good’
uu pronounced longer than u, and sounding a little more like oo in ‘shoot’
Example: bíixuut ‘shirt’
ei pronounced as ay in English ‘say’
Example: wohéí ‘okay!’
ou pronounced as ow in English ‘blow’
Example: hohóu ‘thank you’
Example: tóotousííni ‘how are things?’
oe pronounced roughly as English ie in ‘pie’
Example: wo3onohóe ‘paper’
Example: honóh’oehíhi’ ‘little boy’
eii longer than ei, sometimes sounding like ei’i or even ei’ei
Example: neniisí3ei’ínee ‘you guys are working’
ouu longer then ou, sometimes sounding like ou’u or even ou’ou
Example: nii’óuubéíhinoo ‘I feel good’
Example: hóuu ‘crow’
oee longer then oe, sometimes sounding like oe’e or even oe’oe

Mom, watch this! No’oo, cihnoohoowuu!

**Baby Update**

Hazel signed a new word: light, noho’oeseiyoo


If you have a 3-year-old too, you’re probably familiar with this script.  Here’s how to say it in Arapaho:

Mom, watch this!                                                                    no’oo, cihnoohoowuu!

I’m watching you                                                                    heesoohobe3en

Are you ready?                                                                      koowoowuno’?

I’m ready                                                                                woow

I see you                                                                                nonoohoobe3en

Run!  You ran                                                                        nihikohu!  nihnihikohun

Jump!  You jumped                                                               ceno’oo!  nihceno’oon

Nice, cool, good                                                                    nii’iini’

Just one more                                                                       noo’xo’ bebeet neeniseti’

That’s enough, we’re done now                                            woow benee3toono’

Uh-oh Baby! And what’s actually working?


Hazel’s got two new words:

Uh-oh‘owei if a female is saying it, ‘eiyoo’ or wiy if the speaker is male

Babyneniisoo is my baby, hiniisoo is your baby, heniisoo is his/her baby;  a baby is “obligatorily possessed” meaning you have to say to whom it belongs


What we’ve learned so far

This project (learning Arapaho while we teach our girls) started on January 1st, 2014, and a lot has happened in these 10 months of trying to learn more Arapaho every day.  The truth is over the summer life got overwhelming and I didn’t reach out to learn new words for several straight months — then it all got exciting again, got into my blood, and we’re back in the saddle.  That’s part of the lesson: when learning a whole language seems too huge, if you give up for a while, no worries; the energy comes and goes like that, and no effort is ever wasted.  For me it’s a lot like trying to live healthier, exercise and lose weight — if I think too much about the long-range goal, I get disheartened and give up, but if I concentrate on right smack now — on how cool it is that a baby-crumpled vocabulary list named “Toddler Words that Aren’t Commands” is taped to the window behind my computer, or that Amelie said “I’m petting my he3 today” an hour ago — then that makes right smack now fun, and I can keep putting energy into the project.

So, Lesson #1: Enjoy right smack now.  It’s a fascinating language, an honor to have the opportunity to learn it.  The effort to wrap your mind, your tongue and your parenting around Arapaho is like learning to play the violin; it’s a very refined skill, something to work on for the joy of working on, to be proud of and humble about at the same time.  And it’s just fun.  Remembering a new word is satisfying like getting a puzzle piece to fit in a huge puzzle is satisfying, or like shooting at something hard and actually hitting it.  It feels good.

Lesson #2: Praying before bed really works.  Maybe it’s because bedtime never changes, so if you pray last thing of the day, it’s easy to do it every day.  It’s also not at all stressful, because you’re in the darkness with your kid and no one else is listening — it doesn’t matter at all if you say something wrong or if you can’t remember something, because your kid has no clue what you’re saying anyway, given that there’s no context.  I open every prayer with the same words (though I intentionally change it after that, as an elder instructed that prayers need to be creatively different every time), and a couple months ago our 3-year-old Amelie asked if she could pray for me — then started her prayer with those same words, in Arapaho, on her own.  I had no idea she’d learned them because she lies there in silence while I pray every time, but it was wonderful to hear her say it.  She doesn’t know what it means but she knows she’s talking to the Creator for me, and she’ll learn the rest later.

Lesson #3: Tape Arapaho words up with clear packing tape around the edges, not on the back with rolled-up masking tape. Signs hung up with masking tape on the back peel right off and fall down if wind blows or if they’re anywhere near moisture, but paper that is taped up around the edges stays forever.  Don’t forget to say the words out loud every day; just having them hanging up doesn’t get it into your brain.

Lesson #4: Friends really inspire us, so support others who are trying too.  It’s easy to feel like we’re alone doing this, but the truth is, we’re not.  There are hundreds of people on Wind River Reservation and off it that really care about the language and want it to be strong again.  Many use Arapaho words every day, and a great many pray for the language in sweat lodges every week.  We are doing something meaningful and lasting for the people we love and the elders who have passed when we learn and use Arapaho — together, even if we feel like we’re fighting alone.  Every positive word that reminds us we are a whole team, every connection helps.  So connect.  My email is and I’d love to hear your story.


As the Baby Signs It

We’re trying something new: learning words in the order they’re learned by a baby. Hazel just turned one and is learning sign language, so we can speak the word in either English or Arapaho while we sign it. The English is way easier for her to say, but this way our family will learn Arapaho that Hazel and her sister Amelie will understand and we’ll be in the habit of using it by the time they can pronounce it.

Here’s Hazel’s current current vocabulary, hoping to record video of signing soon!

Doghe3, animate
See?neeyou (there it is) if the thing pointed to is inanimate, neene’eehk (there he/she/it is) if the noun is animate
Bookwo3onohoe, inanimate
Bye byeheetce’nohobe3en
Plantbisiii’oot, animate
Plane –  niinih’ohuunoo, inanimate
All done / let me out of the crib/chair etcbenee3toonoo (I’m finished) / ceneni (lower me down)
Kiss (me)niitenetiit (a kiss) or cihniiteni (kiss me)
DaddyNeixoo (my/your father: neisonoo/heisonoo, animate)
Prettybeebeeyoo’ if it’s one inanimate thing or beebeeneiht if it’s animate


To the baby in the high chair…

Just got some greHigh Chair Hinono'ei'niihi'at translations via text from a leader of the Arapaho Immersion School, Hinono’eititono’oowu’.  No sound files yet — I could record myself but I sound like a real nih’oo3ousei and will probably get it wrong.  As soon as this gets posted I’m writing them with permanent markers on neniisoo‘s high chair, so long as she doesn’t wake up from her nap first!

So here are some words for feeding kids:

Do you like it?                               Kooni’iicet?

You want more?                           Koonosouniihi’?

All done?                                       Koohotoowoo?

And if they start crying, in any situation:

What’s wrong?                             Tousciini’oo?