Our Mother Tongues Blog

"Injunuity" — A Wonderful Short Film

February 11, 2014 - 6:32 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

Injunuity is a wonderful short film from Vision Maker Media and ITVS about preserving American Indian languages. It is a mix of animation, music, and real thoughts from real people exploring our world from the Native American perspective. Enjoy!

Video! ... Audience Responses to "We Still Live Here" Screening in India

November 9, 2013 - 6:54 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

On October 30, We Still Live Here screened at the Tribal India Festival at the Central University of Jharkhand, India. Our thanks to Tolheishel Khaling for organizing the screening and making this wonderful video of many responses and insights on indigenous language revival.

"We Still Live Here" Screens at UMass Boston on October 23

October 24, 2013 - 7:00 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

Boston, October 23 — We Still Live Here was well-received by an attentive & impressively reflective group of 40 UMASS Boston students this evening, who asked wonderful questions & seemed genuinely moved by the film's message of hope & inspiration for Native language communities. They also wanted to know about Native students' engagement w/ & interest in their heritage languages nationwide. Kutâputush Prof. Den Ouden for using WSLH annually as a teaching tool in her Women's Studies & Anthropology courses!

An Exultation of California Indian Languages

September 27, 2013 - 8:14 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

The Revival of Wampanoag: Listen to the Podcast

July 30, 2013 - 5:03 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

Listen to the WQRC podcast (click here) and learn more about the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project's plans to launch a Wampanoag Language Public Charter School in August 2015. Curriculum Specialist Nitana Hicks, Project Administrator Judi Urquhart, and Charter Coordinator Jennifer Weston join WQRC's Kathryn Eident on the Sunday Journal podcast. Enjoy!

 

Reviving the Yurok language

July 15, 2013 - 3:28 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

Marc Martin and Lee Romney of the Los Angeles Times

EUREKA, Calif. — Carole Lewis throws herself into her work as if something big was at stake.

“Pa’-ah,” she tells her Eureka High School class, gesturing at a bottle of water. She whips around and doodles a crooked little fish on the blackboard, hinting at the dip she’s prepared with “ney-puy” — salmon, key to the diet of California’s largest Native American tribe.

For thousands of years before Western settlers arrived, the Yurok thrived in dozens of villages along the Klamath River. By the 1990s, however, academics had predicted their language soon would be extinct. As elders passed away, the number of native speakers dropped to six.

But tribal leaders would not let the language die.

Last fall, Eureka High became the fifth and largest school in Northern California to launch a Yurok-language program, marking the latest victory in a Native language revitalization program widely lauded as the most successful in the state.

At last count, there were more than 300 basic Yurok speakers, 60 with intermediate skills, 37 who are advanced and 17 who are considered conversationally fluent.

If all goes as planned, Lewis' 20 students will move on to a second year of study, satisfying the world language requirement for admission to University of California and Cal State schools.

But the teacher and tribe have some longer-term goals: boosting Native American high school graduation rates and college admissions numbers; deepening the Yurok youths' bonds to their culture; and ensuring that their language will regain prominence after half a century of virtual silence.

The decimation of the language dates to the first half of the 20th century, when tens of thousands of Native American youngsters across the country, Lewis' mom among them, were sent to government-run boarding schools. The effort to assimilate the youth into Euro-American culture pressed them to abandon their own. Often they were beaten for speaking in their native tongues.

»»» Read the complete article and enjoy a video & slideshow on
The Frameworks Page of the Los Angeles Times

MASHPEE WAMPANOAG TRIBAL LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT

May 14, 2013 - 10:34 AM | by Our Mother Tongues

Mashpee Wampanoag Logo

 

MASHPEE WAMPANOAG TRIBAL LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT

By Jennifer Weston, Our Mother Tongues Co-Producer

 Department Overview:  The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Language Department was established by Council Ordinance 2009-ORD-005 on June 10, 2009 to recognize the role of language as “central to the protection of the customs, culture, and spiritual well-being of the people,” and to acknowledge the “critical state of the newly reclaimed Wampanoag language, and the need to secure its survival for the benefit of future generations.” The department is a unit of the Cultural and Historic Department. The Tribal Council reaffirmed its commitment to language revitalization in resolution 2011-RES-025 to recognize the inherent “birth right of each Wampanoag child adult to speak his or her language given by Creator.”

The Language Department collaborates with the community-run intertribal non-profit organization, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP). All tribal household members who enroll in the free language classes offered by project-certified teachers are members of the WLRP Language Committee, which meets monthly to review project activities, progress, and policies. A seven member board of directors provides oversight for all external grants funding and applications.

Founded twenty years ago with the key objective of reclaiming Wôpanâôt8âôk (Wampanoag language) as the principal means of expression within the Wampanoag Tribal Nation, WLRP’s efforts have gained international recognition for becoming the first American Indian community to reclaim and revitalize a sleeping tribal language, even with no recent living speakers.

This unprecedented effort was possible through linguistics training in Algonquian languages, and by working with the largest Native-written corpus of 17th and 18th century documents in North America translated and written by Wampanoag people—including the King James Bibles of 1663 and 1680, and hundreds of personal letters, wills, deeds, and land transactions written in Wôpanâôt8âôk. Wampanoag people were also the first American Indians to develop and use an alphabetic writing system.


Community-Based Language Revitalization:

“Reclaiming our language is one means of repairing the broken circle of cultural loss and pain. To be able to understand and speak our language means to see the world as our families did for centuries. This is but one path which keeps us connected to our people, the earth, and the philosophies and truths given to us by the Creator.”

WLRP and the Language Department are committed to training new generations of fluent speakers of Wôpanâôt8âôk through master apprentice and other language immersion techniques. Twelve language teachers have also been trained and certified to provide instruction for beginners in the complex grammar and structure of Wôpanâôt8âôk. While students of all ages are welcome in community language classes, WLRP’s Language Committee and Board of Directors have prioritized founding a K-3 Wôpanâôt8ây Pâhshaneekamuq (Wampanoag Language Immersion Charter School), based on widespread community demand for children’s language classes.

Weekly classes and language immersion camps will continue as well; however, in order to train a new generation of proficient speakers fully bilingual in both Wôpanâôt8ây and English, a publicly-funded regional charter school will teach all K-3 subjects in Wôpanâôt8ây beginning in August 2015, and aim to add additional grade levels annually.

It is our deep belief that it is through our children and their language acquisition that the long term sustainability of our language can be ensured.

Department Advisory Boards:
*Memoranda of Understanding with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Council, and the Herring Pond and Assonet Wampanoag Councils.
*Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project Language Committee and Board of Directors
*Wôpanâôt8ây Pâhshaneekamuq Charter School Founding Board of Trustees

Resources:
For language class schedules and registration forms for upcoming camps, including Summer Turtle (August 5-23, 2013) and Family Immersion Camp (September 13-15, 2013) visit wlrp.org

To see clips from the documentary, Âs Nutayuneân: We Still Live Here, about the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project visit the following sites:

mwtribe.exstream.tv/human_services#
www.ourmothertongues.org
www.pbs.org/independentlens/we-still-live-here/
www.makepeaceproductions.com

Endangered Languages Update: Summer Language Programs

January 26, 2013 - 8:01 AM | by Our Mother Tongues

Tribal language programs nationwide have begun summer program preparations for a range of community language immersion and teacher training opportunities. Among Cultural Survival’s advisor programs, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project and Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project, will offer multi-week language camps for youth focused on building conversational skills and ceremonial vocabulary to engage students as future community cultural leaders. During Summer 2012 Cultural Survival helped sponsor daily youth classes at the Euchee House in Sapulpa, OK, and the first annual Euchee Language Bowl competition. On Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages program co-sponsored the Summer Turtle Camp for three dozen students who participated in traditional tribal fishing, clambake, and other food ways, along with crafts, and daily language lessons including songs, prayers, and performances for their families—and the Governor of Massachusetts on the final day of camp. This summer Cultural Survival is again seeking donors to co-sponsor these invaluable summer youth language and ceremonial training opportunities which are creating new generations Indigenous language speakers and future community leaders.

Read complete article at CulturalSurvival.org

 

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