Cayuga: Our Oral Legacy (COOL) aka “The CURA Project”

What is COOL? COOL is a 5-year Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) Project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The official SSHRC title for this project is “Cayuga Language Maintenance”, but we call it COOL. Our website is

Duration: 2010-2015.

Who is involved? The project leaders are Amos Key, Jr., Director of First Nations Language Program at the Woodland Cultural Centre, and Dr. Carrie Dyck, a Linguistics Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The Steering Committee members are Angie Monture, Joanne Longboat, Lottie Keye, Renae Bomberry, Roronhiakehte Deer, Tom Deer, Tracy Deer, and Alfred Keye. Our coordinator at the Woodland Cultural Centre is Christine Jacobs.

Who are the partner institutions? Memorial University and the Woodland Cultural Centre are the main partners. We also have several community partners: Six Nations Polytechnic, Six Nations Language Commission, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board and Sweetgrass First Nations Language Council Inc.

What are the goals of the project? to increase the number of Gayogoho:nǫˀ speakers; to increase fluency levels; to have Gayogoho:nǫˀ spoken everywhere in the Six Nations community; to demonstrate how knowing Gayogoho:nǫˀ promotes spiritual, emotional, and academic intelligence; to engage in public education and advocacy of minority language education, bilingualism, and bilingual education; and to promote a change in public attitudes and policies about First Nations languages.

Current Projects

Cayuga Courses and Curriculum – In December 2011, the COOL project began partnering with the Six Nations Polytechnic Institute to produce Cayuga language courses and curriculum. The COOL Writing Team (Joanne Longboat, Tracy Deer, and Hayendajiˀ Longboat) are working on materials for SNP’s Ǫgwehǫ:weh Language Diploma, and on course outlines for Cayuga language courses (grades 9-12) for the Gaihǫnya:nih E-learning institute. We would like to thank the Six Nations Polytechnic Institute for providing the Cayuga Room as a home of operations for this work.

Community Outreach – Since July 2010, the COOL project has held information sessions about Longhouse doings on Thursday evenings at the Onondaga Language Centre on 5th line. Last year, Alfred Keye explained all the Longhouse ceremonies before they took place.

Projects based out of Memorial University (MUN) - As of early 2012, COOL has three students at MUN working on the project: Lana Williams, Stephanie Pile, and Ilia Nicoll. Together with Principal Investigator Dr. Carrie Dyck and COOL Project Coordinator (MUN) Laurel Anne Hasler, the MUN project team has met frequently to discuss progress and future directions. This team has been working on projects including Cayuga language exercises, formatting sound files so that people can hear them and read transcriptions at the same time, developing the Cayuga language website, and creating Cayuga language materials. These materials are available at the Woodland Cultural Centre and at

Past Projects

Godiwenae Gayogoho:no – The Cayuga Language Nest was funded in part by COOL for the 2010-2011 school year. Program Leader Janie Johnson and staff ran the daycare where 7 children from the ages of 1 to 5 talked and played with three Elders speaking only the Cayuga language.

Dwadewayehsta Gayogoho:no – COOL helped fund the 2010-2011 Master-Apprentice Program, a program wherein Intermediate and Novice speakers worked with fluent, bilingual Elders to raise the students’ oral proficiency. 9 ‘apprentices’ who were active learners met their ‘Master’ speakers one-on-one and in groups, and met with Alfred Keye one morning a week to go through the Gaihwi:yo.

CBC Legends – In the fall of 2011, COOL partnered with CBC on the Legends Project. COOL funded the Elders’ honoraria for the meeting to collect legends and COOL personnel organized, ran, and recorded the meeting, and transcribed the recordings. The legends were turned into dramatizations, translated, and transcribed in Cayuga by Alfred Keye, Haǫhyagehde’ Deer, Tom Deer, and Tracy Deer.

Cayuga e-Dictionary – With the help of a Computer Science student Ranjeet Kumar, COOL developed a digital dictionary of Gayogoho:nǫˀ, which is now accessible online or on DVD and allows people to look up words in either English or Gayogoho:nǫˀ. The dictionary download is available on the COOL Project website, at

In August of 2011, COOL held a workshop on negation in Cayuga in order to share knowledge about words and phrases that express concepts like ‘no’, ‘never’, and ‘not much’. This is part of a series of workshops to co-discover and document the grammar of Cayuga.
In August of 2010, COOL sponsored two workshops on fluency guidelines held at Six Nations Polytechnic Institute. The workshops illustrated how Oral Proficiency Interviews (OPIs) can be used to help determine a person’s fluency level. They also showed how these guidelines can work for any language. COOL hopes to transfer this OPI knowledge into applicable formats for Gayogoho:nǫˀ.

In January 2012, a group of 29 participants met at the Six Nations Polytechnic Institute to discuss Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), including ensuring that sensitive materials are available for future generations and the safeguards that need to be put in place to protect these materials, such as the Gaihwi:yo:, Medicine Ceremonies, legends, etc. People were very interested, and further meetings are planned.

For more details, click on our link.