AISRI research activities focus around several major, interrelated topical areas:
AISRI researchers provide public access to the current results of their ongoing projects. The AISRI Dictionary Portal
allows the visitor to work with AISRI dictionaries for five languages. The AISRI Northern Caddoan Linguistic Text Corpora Portal is a gateway to texts and narratives in Arikara, Skiri Pawnee, and South Band Pawnee.
AISRI research associates and IU graduate students are also conducting research on Haida, a language isolate; Thompson, a Salishan language; and Kaska, an Athapascan language. Those languages, all endangered, are distributed from the Yukon, down through the Northwest Coast, across the Great Plains, and to the East Coast.
In the course of descriptive work with these languages, AISRI staff have developed new tools for documenting and analyzing them as well as for disseminating their studies in both research and pedagogical formats. The new tools, which have been created for general use by any linguist engaged in the documentation of any language, are the following:
- Indiana Dictionary Database (IDD), a multimedia dictionary database program in Microsoft Visual FoxPro that incorporates sound and images.
- Indiana Annotated Text Processor (ATP), a multimedia interlinear text processing program that also incorporates sound.
In addition to these tools, AISRI has also established the Center for the Documentation of Endangered Languages (CDEL) Sound Laboratory, which supports the various sound recording needs of research and educational projects as well as houses an archive for sound recorded materials.
Several current AISRI projects focus on the history and culture of specific Plains tribes:
- Sioux documentary history
- Sioux-Assiniboine-Stoney culture history,as reflected in dialect differentiation, social movements, and historical traditions
- Arikara history and culture
These projects, based on a combination of documentary and field studies, include the development of archives comprising historical, ethnographic, and linguistic materials.
The documentation of tribal musical traditions is part of two larger AISRI projects.
The two studies:
- Arikara music, a project based largely on contemporary field recordings but including historical recordings
- Sioux music, a project based on field recordings of George Sword, an Oglala, made at the beginning of the twentieth century
These projects rely in part on the CDEL Sound Laboratory
facility, which provides the technology to enhance older analog sound recordings on wax cylinders and tape.
As part of a larger documentary and research project, research has also focused on Pawnee material culture, utilizing written documentation from earlier in the century combined with the contemporary study of museum specimens.
Within these topical areas specific projects deal with languages and cultures throughout North America, but most focus on central and northern Plains peoples.