The Cherokee Nation hosted the launch of the United Nations’ International Decade of Indigenous Languages in Tahlequah last week. The three-day event featured language leaders from around the world, both in person and virtually, to share information and best practices on language preservation efforts. The 10-year initiative continues the work of the United Nations General Assembly’s 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, drawing attention to the critical loss of Indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote them. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. opened the event with a welcome, and Special Envoy for International Affairs and Language Preservation Joe Byrd offered a blessing.
A land full of rich Ojibwe culture and Dakota history that stretches back hundreds of years can go unnoticed to college students attending a northern Minnesota university in the thick of Indian Country.A small steering committee of faculty and students at Bemidji State University has a solution on how to lift that history and culture to the front of the classroom: make an Indigenous studies course a requirement for all students. It’s a step, supporters say, that would benefit the roughly 5,000-student body and the university’s commitment to serve the people of the state and region. It could happen, perhaps as soon as the fall of 2021. And a goal for it to happen is to not increase student workload or require additional funding for more staff, said Erica Bailey-Johnson, Red Lake Nation.
I write from Vancouver Island, where emptied tankers sit in the harbor, unable to go to port because of rail blockades in solidarity with Indigenous land defenders. As I write, we are witnessing/participating in/supporting nothing less than the opening of a new cycle of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist struggle in Canada.
For more than 150 years, the Wôpanâak language was silent. With no fluent speakers alive, the language of the Mashpee Wampanoag people existed only in historical documents. It was by all measures extinct. But a recently established language school on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation in Massachusetts is working to bring back the language. The threat of extinction that faces the Wôpanâak language is not uncommon for indigenous languages in the United States. Calculated federal policy, not happenstance, led to the destruction of NativeAmerican languages such as Wôpanâak. But today, Native language schools are working to change that by revitalizing languages that have been threatened with extinction. In the 19th century, federal policy shifted from a policy of extermination and displacement to assimilation.
By Tristan Ahtone for Yes Magazine. Norway - A good puppet has to be liked, so Binnabánnaš was given a pair of friendly brown eyes, a set of uneven blue antlers, and leather shoes with red trim and curled toes reminiscent of samiske komagers, the traditional reindeer skin shoes worn by the Sámi, the indigenous people of Northern Europe. He also has a job: to teach the Sámi language to children on Norwegian television on his own three-minute show. For example, Binnabánnaš teaches words that begin with the letter “B,” the difference between big and small, and colors. Think Sesame Street with an indigenous twist. “Binnabánnaš could look like a reindeer calf, or it could be a cow calf. Some people thought it was a goat,” said Tamie Sue Runningen of NRK Sápmi, a unit of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation responsible for producing Sámi content.
By Lauren Wildgoose for IC Magazine - The Moose Cree First Nation, located on Moose Factory Island at the southern end of James Bay, is engaged in a series of community-based language preservation initiatives in support of its unique dialect of Cree. The First Nation’s Language and Culture department published the first Moose Cree dictionary in 2014 and a second edition in 2015, which will be followed by third, English-to-Cree edition next year. Geraldine Govender, Director of Language and Cultural Programs for the First Nation, coordinated the dictionary with Cree linguist Kevin Brousseau
By Staff of The Rules - Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit or thought-form driven by greed, excess and selfish consumption. It deludes it host into believing that consuming the life force of others for self-aggrandizement or profit is a logical and morally upright way to live. Wetiko hides in darkness. Conscious awareness brings it into the light. Once we see it, in ourselves and the world around us we can know it, and tame it. Here, artists, writers, film makers, poets and performers from around the world are seeing wetiko in their lives. Join us – see it for yourself.
By Anna Culaba for Ryot - Even though it seems like the English language has pretty much given up on life, it’s more alive than ever as we add more and more words like “selfie” and “YOLO” to our vocabularies. But do you know that we are losing about one language spoken around the world to oblivion every two weeks? According to the United Nations, there are almost 7,000 spoken languages in the world and, by the year 2100, we will have said goodbye to more than half of them. Here in America, the New York Times reports that more than 130 Native American languages are currently at risk and 74 of those languages are “critically endangered.”