Our companion Indigenous language websites:
Our partner and adviser Indigenous language communities:
The Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project
"What we want, what we need in our communities, what our goal is, is to keep alive our languages so our young people will have breath-to breath knowledge of their traditions, of their ceremonies, of their medicines, of the stars," says Dr. Richard Grounds, who has chaired Cultural Survival's program council since 2005.
The Euchee people call themselves the "People of the sun," or "Tso ya ha," in their language. The Euchee language is a "language isolate" -- it is unrelated to any other Native language in the Americas.
Based in Sapulpa, OK, the Euchee Language Project (ELP) brings together its 4 remaining fluent elder speakers -- all Euchee first-language speakers now in their 70s and 80s -- on a daily basis to develop immersion curriculum, conduct afterschool language classes for young people in the community, and to engage in master apprentice training sessions with middle-generation speakers. Operating as a state-recognized tribe with some support from the federally recognized Maskoke/Creek Nation, the ELP struggles to maintain a predictable annual budget with nearly half of its staff serving on only a part-time basis. Current key funding needs include immersion curriculum development and support for master apprentice participants and teachers to sustain a weekly time commitment and ensure progress toward fluency for the dozens of students taught by the second-language learners.
Hinono'eitiino'oowu: The Arapaho Language Lodges
Scholars and community leaders estimate that fewer than 150 people on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming now speak Arapaho as a first language, and they are nearly all over 50 years old. The Northern Arapaho Tribe's language immersion preschools, Hinono'eitiino'oowu, "The Arapaho Language Lodges" each today's youth about the foundations of their identity as Arapaho people.
The Arapaho Language Lodges are also a gathering place for the elders to convene daily in their language -- a true rarity for them as their younger generations speak only English and are immersed in popular American culture, even on this rural reservation on the northern plains.
The challenges ahead are great: maintaining the tribe's funding for two preschool classrooms, plus acquiring new funds to expand the school to serve students up through the fifth grade.
The Sauk Language Department
Despite the loss of over 99 percent of their fluent speakers, the Sauk people have a long history of working to save their language--beginning in the early 1970s with community-based language classes, and continuing with the founding of the Sauk Language Department in Stroud, OK.
The Sauk Language Department has made great strides in developing and piloting its pre-school language curriculum, and has mobilized widespread community participation in language materials production, educational gatherings such as weekly adult classes and community-wide "language bowl" competitions. A dcommunity course curriculum, a sample home study packet, and immersion game booklet have also been created. Meetings and recording sessions with Sauk speakers for the purposes of curriculum development, and expansion of an audio database are ongoing. Work on a teacher-training curriculum, a Sauk grammar workbook, and a Sauk pronunciation guide were also completed in recent years, as well as a new website called TalkSauk.com. Current efforts are focused on an intensive three-year Master Apprentice program pairing the community's handful of fluent speakers with committed language learners who are developing a Master Apprentice Teaching Book. The program is funded by Cultural Survival's grant from the federal Administratin for Native Americans.
The Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project
The awakening of Wôpanâak after seven generations without speakers is a uniquely inspiring story of cultural survival and tribal unity. Tribal citizens founded the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) in 1997, and its participants and students are the first Native American community to successfully reclaim a language after many generations without fluent speakers.
The project now has two MIT-credentialed Wampanoag linguists, six conversationally fluent teachers, a dozen advanced students, and has instructed hundreds of community members, including participants at annual 3-day family immersion camps, serving tribal citizens from the Wampanoag communities of Mashpee, Aquinnah, Assonet and Herring Pond. Cultural Survival has also helped to support two-week long summer language and culture camps in 2011 and 2012.
The National Alliance to Save Native Languages
Founded in 2006, The National Alliance to Save Native Languages is a coalition of stakeholders including tribes, schools, and individuals, as well as regional and national organizations, dedicated to advancing federal legislation to fund Native language immersion schools.
12 Month Calendar featuring Cultural Survival's work advancing Indigenous Peoples' rights around the world
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