Punished At Boarding School (language)

Native Americans Work to Save Language

Aru Pande | VOA News Nov 28, 2014.

FORT YATES, NORTH DAKOTA—One evening a week, young and old gather in Michael Moore’s classroom in Fort Yates, North Dakota, to learn Lakota — the language of their Sioux tribal ancestors.

For many of the students here at Sitting Bull College, it’s a tongue their great grandparents spoke fluently at home.

But that changed in the early 1900’s, when thousands of Native American children were sent to boarding schools where they were told to assimilate, learn English and forget all aspects of their native culture.

Gabe Black Moon, who co-teaches Lakota with Moore, remembered his time at one such school.

“The government punished [us for speaking] our language, and I’ve seen that happen. It happened to me,” he said. “Day one, I went to school, I couldn’t speak English. I got punished pretty bad.”

From Trail of Tears to texting (language)

Cherokee language: From Trail of Tears to texting in the native tongue

As elders worry about whether their culture will survive, children continue learning to speak as their ancestors did

November 22, 2014 5:00AM ET
by Juliana Keeping   @julianakeeping

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The children stand in a circle, just beyond a poster of a U.S. map that highlights the swath of the Southeastern United States that the Cherokees once controlled.

The fourth-grade students are in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in eastern Oklahoma, where they speak, learn and write in nothing but the tongue of their ancestors.

The conversation among the animated pupils bounces around the circle. They are preparing for a Cherokee language competition and in doing so, talking about a scenario in which they are looking to meet up with their teacher, Glenda Beitz, in a Walmart parking lot — if they could only remember where she lived.

The exercise aims to emphasize Oklahoma town names because “those are disappearing in our language,” said Beitz, 49, who has taught the class of eight 9-year-olds since they entered kindergarten.

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Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language (language)

How An Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language

Jordan Kushins
Yesterday 8:30pm

It's easy to take translations for granted when Google can swap between Albanian and Zulu with the click of a button, but even that tech has real world limitations. Marie Wilcox is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, one of 130 different endangered Native American languages in the United States that don't have any kind of digital—or analog—legacy.

Over the course of seven years in California's San Joaquin Valley, she worked with her daughter and grandson to catalog everything she knows about the language. First, she hand-scrawled memories on scraps of paper; then, she hunt-and-pecked on an old keyboard to complete a dictionary and type out legends like "How We Got Our Hands." Next, she recorded the whole thing on audio for pronunciation—it's very specific!—and posterity.

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Mother Tongue (language/politics)

Language Becomes Key Issue In Navajo Presidential Race

By  Laurel Morales
September 22, 2014

One of the leading contenders in the Navajo presidential election this November might be kicked out of the race later this week.

Why? Because he didn’t tell the complete truth about how well he spoke the Navajo language.

That’s an issue because many tribal elders speak only Navajo. However, some voters are saying it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Chris Deschene is working on his Navajo. When he introduces himself, he identifies his clans in the native language.

Last spring when he decided to run for president he took an oath saying he spoke the language fluently. He later admitted his language skills did need some work.

Complaints against Deschene’s alleged embellishment of the truth have gone all the way up to the Navajo Supreme Court. It will rule later this week on whether Deschene can even stay in the race.

Push for Ojibwe, Dakota to become majors (language)

University faculty push for Ojibwe, Dakota languages to become majors

Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Molly Michaletz, The Minnesota Daily,

Some faculty members within the University of Minnesota’s Department of American Indian Studies are trying to preserve two languages indigenous to the state.

Currently, students don’t have the option to major in Ojibwe or Dakota, the two languages offered within the department. But with a recent push from veteran and new professors, students may eventually be able to major in the languages. 

Brendan Fairbanks, a long-serving assistant American Indian studies professor, said creating the option to major in each of the languages would allow students studying the languages to receive better jobs after graduation and would ensure the languages stay alive.

If the languages remain used, she said students who know them “can go on to teach their children the language.”

University students can currently receive teaching certificates – named the Dakota Iapi Unspewicakiyapi and the Ojibwemodaa Eta! certificates – that allow them to teach the languages at immersion schools.

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Mi’gmaq Community (language)

Mi’gmaq community works to revitalize language

McGill, Concordia linguists partner to help develop educational tools
Written by Janna Bryson | Visual by the Listuguj Education Directorate

Not all McGill research happens at McGill. Since Fall 2011, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community has been the site of the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership (MRP), a joint venture between the linguistics departments at McGill and Concordia and the Listuguj community. The project aims to bring linguists, their students, and Mi’gmaq community members together to develop a deeper understanding of the disappearing Mi’gmaq language.

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Documenting Native American languages

9/2/2014 9:54:00 AM
Navajo woman undertakes project to document Native American languages and histories
Katherine Locke Reporter
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Karen Begay wants to preserve Native American languages from becoming extinct by recording and documenting tribal and family history from tribes across the United States told by elders in their own languages. 

She envisions turning her work into an archive titled Native American Oral History that can be passed on to future generations. A big part of the project is capturing the time when the elders grew up, a time that does not exist now. 

"We're letting the people talk in their own languages," Begay said. "Talk about their history, their family history, their tribe and their culture."

Saving Aymara (language)

‘Our language is our soul’: saving Aymara

By Alexia Kalaitzi
Published on June 17, 2014

‘Could you imagine yourself speaking a language, your mother tongue, at home and then going to school and learning a foreign language? It is a big shock,’ says Ruben Hilare, an activist from the Bolivian indigenous community of Aymara, trying to describe the reality of many children in the community.

Aymara is a language as well as a people: it is a native American language spoken by over a million people in Bolivia and several large communities in Peru, Chile and Argentina. Although it is an official language in Bolivia, it is underrepresented in the public sphere, where Spanish dominates. The only media sources exclusively in Aymara are a handful of television shows and radio programmes, while the language is taught at school for only an hour a week. 

Until recently, Aymara did not have an online presence, either. But this is changing. Ruben Hilare and other community members are making an effort to save their language and promote it on the internet, establishing a virtual community called Jaqi Aru.