Anna knows which local plants make good medicines. Raven Heart is a 12-year-old boy who idolizes Sky, who is educating his people on the dangers of a proposed gold mine behind their Alaskan village. Raven Heart’s mother died of cancer after being exposed to chemicals used in the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup.

Research, culture and drama come together

This cast of characters populates a prototype video game created by Clinical Associate Professor Leslie Hall. She will discuss the game during Friday’s Academic Showcase from 1 to 4 p.m. on the first floor of the Education Addition on the Pullman campus. The showcase of researchers’ work is new on the annual homecoming weekend schedule, and much in keeping with our annual “Scholarship and Excellence” theme.

Leslie worked on the video game prototype with James Sanderville, a former WSU graduate student and enrolled Klamath tribal member.  Their goal was to inspire young residents of Nanwalik, Alaska, to take an interest in their traditional language, Sugcestun, as well as the culture and knowledge of their people, the Supiaq Alutiiq — and learn research skills along the way.

The WSU duo’s choice of this particular village was inspired by a National Science Foundation program officer who just happened to be assigned to the Arctic regions. Leslie will talk about what it took to put the game together, and its creators’ hopes for the future of the project.  There is unquestionably a need for such games.  According to the National Geographic, a language dies every 14 days.