I am feeling sad. We did not get the ANA Language Grant. It feels like the loss of a family member. The Language Program has been such a large part of my life (even if I do not avail myself of it as much as I should). I have worked to promote the language since I returned home from college in 1986. Nancy Steele and I started the Karuk Language Restoration Committee in 1988. ANA funding has made a huge impact (incalculable) on the growth and restoration of our language.
We have come so far from those early days of using the uniphon alphabet (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/unifon.htm) and tape recorders to now having digital video and an online dictionary (http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~karuk/index.php). I remember Nancy’s Hypercard program that had a picture of a bear lurching over a stick figure like mountain while it sang the song “the Bear Went Over The Mountain” in our language. I remember in October 1999 when
Bill Bright, his Karuk name was Uhyanapatanvaanich, “little word-asker,” typed on my old Macintosh:
They just are
That just is
The Karuk Indians
Are Real Indian People, And
The Karuk Language
Is The Real Language Of The Karuk People
The first ANA language grant I wrote was a jumble of ideas from developing a Rosetta Stone type language package for distribution to tribal members to contracting with a college professor of mine to teach his language training approach known as the Rassias Method. Since you have no Rosetta Stone type package you can tell it was not funded. Nancy and I became readers for ANA and figured out how to write a better application. Since then we have been funded and the program has flourished.
I am hopeful that we will continue with the amazing progress we have shown. Everyone has worked so hard to make sure our language survives. I am so proud of the hard efforts people have made over the years. Also, I think back on all of the Elders who have helped us on our learning path and I mourn for their passing. I am glad we still have Elders that are prodding us in the right direction, working hard to make sure our language remains alive.
Thank you Auntie for helping us get to where we are today.
Language is Life Conference
The Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (AICLS) will hold their Language is Life Conference on September 16-18, 2011, in Marin, California. AICLS's Language is Life Conference is an opportunity for California Indians to come together to share their experiences and hopes of language revitalization, get ideas from each other, and attend a wide array of workshops and lectures on language teaching and learning methods, family language and cultural practices, funding, recording and computer technology, language research, and other relevant topics.
For more information, contact AICLS at:
221 Idora Avenue, Vallejo, California 94591
by Sonia Nieto
Center for Applied Linguistics
Language is powerful. How a nation deals with language differences says a great deal about the status of people who speak particular languages in that society. E pluribus unum (out of many, one), the bedrock of U.S. society, is based on the belief that our nation should be simultaneously supportive of pluralism and dedicated to unity. Making this ideal a reality, however, has been tricky.