Teaching Indigenous Languages  

Teaching Indigenous Languages

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Important Information

Conferences & Institutes

Indigenous Language News

Some Basics of Indigenous Language Revitalization

Maintaining & Renewing Native Languages

Rationale & Needs for Keeping Languages Alive

Status of Indigenous Languages

Teaching Methods

Selected Resources

American Indian/Indigenous Education

American Indian-General

Bilingual Education

Education (General)

ESL & Language

Indigenous Language

Language Policy & Human Rights

Literacy & Reading

Multicultural Education

Parent Involvement

Havasupai Girls

On September 13, 2007 the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes language rights. Only four nations initially voted against this declaration, including the United States of America. Since then Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.A have reversed their positions. On December 16, 2010, President Barack Obama declared,

And as you know, in April, we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration.

The aspirations it affirms--including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples--are ones we must always seek to fulfill. And we're releasing a more detailed statement about U.S. support for the declaration and our ongoing work in Indian Country. But I want to be clear: What matters far more than words--what matters far more than any resolution or declaration--are actions to match those words.... That's the standard I expect my administration to be held to.

Article 13-1 of the declaration reads "Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons" and Article 14-1 reads "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning." The United Nations General Assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

The National Geographic Society's Enduring Voices Project noted a few years ago that by "2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth--many of them not yet recorded--may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain." It identifies language "hot spots" around the world where Indigenous languages are most rapidly being lost, two of which are in the North America. The Native American Languages Act of 1990 makes it U.S. Government policy to promote, protect, and preserve the Indigenous languages of the U.S.A. This "Teaching Indigenous Languages" web site is an outgrowth of a series of annual conferences started in 1994 at Northern Arizona University to help achieve the goals of the Native American Languages Act. These conferences focus on the linguistic, educational, social, and political issues related to the survival of the endangered Indigenous languages of the world. The 28th Symposium was held as a hybrid (in-person and virtual) conference for June 17th and 18th, 2022 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. The was held again in Flagstaff on June 23-24, 2023 in conjunction with the 13th annual American Indian / Indigenous Teacher Education Conference. The 30th SILS was held on June 5-7, 2024, in Victoria, British Columbia. To receive conference updates and related information join the Indigenous-L List.

At the heart of this site are over a hundred full text papers from the 1994 through 2008 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages conferences as well as the 2000 Learn in Beauty conference and the 1989 Native American Language Issues Institute published in nine monographs. This site also has over 60 columns from the magazine of the National Association for Bilingual Education, articles, and other materials. There is a subject index, a language/tribe index, and links to related sites, including an American Indian / Indigenous Education site. Please direct comments or questions about this site to Jon Reyhner at Jon.Reyhner@nau.edu.

Turning A Corner in Language Revitalization: Sitting Bull College's Lakota Language Capacity Building Initiative Tribal College Spring 2024
Janine Pease on Sustaining Our Languages Tribal College video, Spring 2024
Iyapi Tiyata Glokupi - Bringing the Languages Home: Language Revitalization at America's Tribal Colleges Jurgita Antoine Tribal College Feb. 2024
Neneehove'tanonestse tsehe'enestsestse; tsehe'enestsetse neneehove'tanone: We Are Our Languages; Our Languages Are Us Richard Littlebear Tribal College Feb. 2024
Endangered verses: Can poetry help save a language? Santiago Florez 2/23/2023 El Pais
Healing, Support, Empowerment: How Language Revitalization Can Mitigate Trauma Tribal College Journal Summer 2023
Native communities want schools to teach Native languages. Now the White House is voicing support Neal Morton 4/13/2023
Keeping Alaska Native Languages Alive: Interview with Dr. X'unei Lance Twitchell Harvard International Review 4/10/2023
Educators Work To Preserve Native languages neaToday 3/31/2023

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