Founders Awards for Excellence

2008 University Award for Excellence in Collaborative Achievement

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Clifford Abbott

Professor of Information and Computing Science
(Communication/First Nations Studies)

Maria Hinton ’70

Oneida Elder

Paul Pinkston 2008 Recipient of the Academic Support Award for Excellence

It has been said, “when a language dies, it is a vision of the world that disappears.” In that sense, the collaboration to create an oral dictionary of the Oneida language “one of the world’s most endangered” is keeping a vision of the world alive.

Maria Hinton, one of the few surviving native speakers of Oneida, records words and phrases from the language for the dictionary. It’s hosted on an Oneida language tools website managed by Cliff Abbott, a linguist and previous Founders Award winner for scholarship.

Maria earned her bachelor’s degree at the age of 68 and remains the University’s oldest living graduate at 98. She was also a founding teacher at the Oneida Nation’s Turtle Elementary School, from which she retired at the age of 91. It’s appropriate that her Oneida name translates as “she who remembers.”

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