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LINGUIST List 19.1200

Wed Apr 09 2008

Confs: Language Documentation/USA

Editor for this issue: Stephanie Morse <morselinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Eugene Buckley, Native American Languages in Crisis


Message 1: Native American Languages in Crisis
Date: 08-Apr-2008
From: Eugene Buckley <geneling.upenn.edu>
Subject: Native American Languages in Crisis
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Native American Languages in Crisis

Date: 02-May-2008 - 04-May-2008
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Contact: Robert Preucel
Contact Email: rpreucelsas.upenn.edu

Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation

Meeting Description:

Language loss is arguably the most pressing issue faced by contemporary Native
nations within the present borders of the United States. This conference will
provide a special, though not exclusive, emphasis on smaller Native language
communities as it brings together a wide range of scholars and community
language activists for analysis and open discussion of the impacts and
trade-offs related to technology and academia in Native language revitalization
work. Conference presentations will be built on prepared papers and lead to
roundtable discussions, engaging both presenters and audience. Papers and
proceedings of the conference are to be published in order to help clarify how
the digital resources from technology and the intellectual resources from
academia can help revitalize Native languages.

Native American Languages in Crisis:
Exploring the Interface between Academia, Technology and Smaller
Native Language Communities

Richard Grounds (Euchee Language Program), Organizer and Chair

Robert Preucel (Anthropology, Museum), Penn Facilitator
Gene Buckley (Linguistics), Penn Facilitator
Nancy Hornberger (GSE), Penn Facilitator

Language loss is arguably the most pressing issue faced by contemporary Native
nations within the present borders of the United States. According to surveys
summarized by the Indigenous Languages Institute, 89% of the 175 Native
languages in North America are in imminent danger of falling silent because they
are no longer spoken by children. Of the 20 languages still spoken in Alaska,
only two-Central Yupik and St. Lawrence Island Yupik-are being taught to the
next generation. Similarly, in Oklahoma only four of the remaining 23 Native
languages are being learned by children in a few
traditional homes.

Many of the solutions offered to stop language loss and often supported by
granting agencies promote technological solutions focusing on visual and audio
recording, creating databases, and developing internet and archiving schemes.
But there are significant limitations to the capacity of the technology to
fulfill its illusive promise, and the effectiveness of these digital tools in
producing new fluent speakers is not very clear. And, importantly, there are
under-considered questions relating to the foreign and artificial nature of the
digital media itself, particularly in light of Indigenous self-understandings
regarding the power and proper usages of language. What is the message born by
depersonalized digital media, and does such media carry corrosive influences
that work against the intended goal of perpetuating an Indigenous language,
complete with its ancient ways of understanding the world?

In a similar fashion, the implicit promise of support from academia for
revitalizing Indigenous languages turns out to be difficult to harness directly
to the urgent needs of Native communities seeking to develop new fluent speakers
of their original languages. While linguists and community members can easily
share a broad common goal of perpetuating Native languages, they operate out of
surprisingly separate agendas. Many of the efforts from academia rely on
long-standing strengths for producing lexicons and grammars, generally in the
service of the demand for scholarly publications for career advancement. But
for Native communities in the very late stages of language loss, with few
resources and only handfuls of elderly speakers, much of the arcane academic
output may be of little use in their hands-on, urgent struggle to pass their
languages to the youngest generation.

How can a competition over the limited time of the elders pulled between
separate agendas be turned into a more productive arrangement that can help
ensure the development of new, fully-competent speakers with the depth of
knowledge offered by breath-to-breath learning in face-to-face exchange with
gifted elders?

All of these promises and challenges presented by technology and academia reach
their highest intensity in relation to the smallest language communities. They
are facing the highest threats of language loss, most often with the least
amount of resources. Indeed, these smaller language communities represent, by
far, the embattled majority of Native languages. For small language communities
each choice represents a fateful decision bearing a high impact on the future of
the language as a living language

This conference will provide a special, though not exclusive, emphasis on
smaller Native language communities as it brings together a wide range of
scholars and community language activists for analysis and open discussion of
the impacts and trade-offs related to technology and academia in Native language
revitalization work. Conference presentations will be built on prepared papers
and lead to roundtable discussions, engaging both presenters and audience.
Papers and proceedings of the conference are to be published in order to help
clarify how the digital resources from technology and the intellectual resources
from academia can help revitalize Native
languages.

Tentative Schedule

Friday and Saturday, May 2-3, 2008
Venue: Classroom 2, Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania

Friday Opening Session, May 2 (9:00 -10:00),
Welcome: Lenape Nation Members
Welcome: Penn Representatives

Charge to Conference: Richard A. Grounds, Ph.D. (Euchee, Director of
the Euchee Language Program, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at
University of Tulsa)

Friday AM Session, May 2: (10:00-12:00)
The Urgency and Importance of Language Revitalization and Best Practices

The first panel session will lay out the broad outline of the
predicament and the importance of Native languages which are now in
extreme crisis, leading to a discussion of best practices and
prospects for renewal.

Alice J. Anderton, Ph.D. (Executive Director of the Intertribal
Wordpath Society)
Overview of Community Efforts

Marcus Briggs-Cloud, (Miccosukke of the Maskoke Nation of Florida,
University of Oklahoma Maskoke Language Instructor)
Why Languages Matter, Traditional Perspectives

Eunice Romero, Ph.D. (Cochiti Pueblo, Assistant Professor of
Education, Arizona State University)
Report on Best Practices, Immersion and Academic Achievement

Ryan Wilson (Oglala Lakota, President of the National Alliance to
Save Native Languages)
Overview of Legislative and Political Progress

Friday PM - Session A (1:00-3:00?)
The Promises and Perils of Digital Technology for Language Revitalization

The afternoon session will take up the promises and perils offered by digital
technology. This panel will begin an examination of the little-considered
question of the trade-offs made by oral communities in using much-heralded
technological solutions to pass forward their world views and the traditional
beliefs and values encoded in their languages.

Bernard Perley, Ph.D. (Maliseet, Assistant Professor of Anthropology,
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
The Problem of Technology in Language Revitalization.

Lamont Laird (Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Executive Director
of the Red Star Foundation)
On the Non-Recording of Shawnee Language

Larry Emerson, Ph.D. (Navajo Nation, Artist, Community Activist,
Educator and Counselor)
Recognizing the Power of Language

Laura Graham, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Iowa)
Intangible Heritage/Adapting Technology in Indigenous South America

Friday PM - Session B (3:30-5:15 pm?)
Roundtable Discussion of Technology Issues:
Discuss issues of technology among panel presenters and expanded
cast, then open to full audience of attendees.

Friday PM - Dinner and Keynote Addresses (7:00-9:00 pm)

K. David Harrison, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College,
Director of Research of Living Tongues Institute for Endangered
Languages)
The Value and Challenges for Smaller Languages in Global Context

Jessie Little Doe (Mashpee Wampanoag, Director of the Wampanoag
Language Program)
Contributions of the Academy in Awakening the Wampanoag Language

Saturday AM Session, May 3 (10:00-12:00):
The Challenges of Smaller Language Communities: Case Studies

This session focuses on the special challenges presented by smaller language
communities. These smaller language communities represent the majority of
Native languages in North America and the majority of these are now on course to
fall silent within the next ten to fifteen years. They also, typically, have
little access to significant funding and represent special challenges in terms
of methodology and working with academic supporters.

Shelly DePaul (Director of the Lenape Language Program for the Lenape
Nation of Pennsylvania)

Richard Dauenhauer, Ph.D. (President's Professor of Alaska Native
Languages, University of Alaska, Juneau) and Nora Marks Dauenhauer,
Ph.D. (Tlingit, Poet, Author, Community Activist, Affiliate
Professor, University of Alsaka, Juneau)

Tachini Pete (Executive Director of Nkwusm, a Salish revitalization school)

Leslie Harper, (Nigaane Language Immersion Program at the
Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School)

Saturday PM - Session A (1:00 - 3:00?)
The Problematic of Engaging the Academy in Native Language Revitalization

The conference will culminate in a panel session focusing on the interface
between the academy and Native communities, both of whom have a deep interest in
the survival of Indigenous languages and the Indigenous knowledge systems born
by them. However, the demands of the academy and the needs of the community
represent surprisingly separate agendas. The session will hold up crucial
issues concerning access to materials, ethics, collaboration, outreach, and
funding. The goal here is not only to take seriously the deep challenges within
this critical interface, but also to explore new ways forward that will be
beneficial for the interests of both the academy and Native communities

Daryl Baldwin (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Director of the Myaamia
Project, Miami University)
Contributions of the Academy in Awakening the Myaamia Language

Jacob Manatowa-Bailey (Sac and Fox, Director of the Sauk Language
Department for the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma)
Challenges for Communities in Working with Academics

Leanne Hinton, Ph.D. (Professor of Linguistics, University of
California at Berkeley, Director of the Survey of California and
Other Indian Languages)
Historical Arc of Engagement and Current Interface Between
Linguistics and Local Communities

Inés Talamantez, Ph.D. (Apache/Chicana, Professor of Religion,
Department of Religious Studies, University of California at Santa
Barbara)
The Politics of Indigenous language Acquisition in the Academy

Saturday PM - Session B (3:30 - 5:15?)
Roundtable Discussion: How can the academy and smaller language
communities work together in the most productive ways? Discussion
begins with panel presenters and expanded cast, then opens to full
audience.

Sunday May 4, 2008

Venue: Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania

Sunday May 4- Lenape Language Workshop

The final day is reserved for a Lenape Language Workshop organized by Ann
Dapice. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a forum for members of
different Lenape communities across the US and Canada to compare information on
the ongoing efforts to preserve the Lenape language and develop best practices.

Participants will be announced in the near future.



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