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On October 5-7, 2021, in light of the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages, Cultural Survival hosted a three-day virtual conference, "Restoring and Protecting Our Native Languages and Landscapes.” This conference equipped individuals working at the community level with tools and best practices for revitalizing and strengthening Indigenous languages and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge carried within them.

Joining the conference were 30+ Indigenous educators, practitioners, linguists, activists, and other leaders working in Indigenous language revitalization. Discussions demonstrated why language revitalization and biodiversity protection are inextricably linked, and presented methodologies, practical ideas, and solutions for the best ways to carry forward the work revitalizing and protecting language, culture, and land holistically. This event was possible thanks to the generous support of the Lannan Foundation, Swift Foundation, Vadon Foundation, and Trust for Mutual Understanding.

We encourage language activists and practitioners working in the field of language revitalization to continue to use the content from the conference as a resource. 

Read our conference summary report!



Day 1 - Indigenous Languages as Contributors to the Preservation of Biodiversity

Traditional Ecological Knowledge is embedded in traditional practices and reflected in Indigenous languages, cultures, cosmovisions, and oral traditions. This knowledge and invaluable ways of being and knowing as it relates to the preservation of biodiversity and our ecosystems are at high risk of being lost when an Indigenous language disappears.

Opening ceremony and welcome 

  • Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawaiʻi”)
  • Galina Angarova (Buryat)
  • Adriana Hernández (Maya K’iche’)
  • Richard Grounds (Yuchi, Seminole)


Keynote Presentation:  Michele Johnson Phd (Syilx)


Panel 1: State of Indigenous Languages as Measure of Indigenous Rights

  • Galina Angarova (Buryat), moderator 
  • Carla Fredericks (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara)
  • Kate Finn (Osage)
  • Tarcila Rivera Zea (Quechua)
  • Francisco Calí (Maya Kaqchikel)

Panel 2: Indigenous languages and Traditional Knowledge at the center of biodiversity conservation

  • Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez Lopez (Mixe/Ayuuk ja'ay and Zapotec/Binnizá), moderator
  • Jeanette Armstrong (Okanagan) 
  • Marcus Briggs-Cloud (Maskoke) 
  • Miguel Jacanamejoy (Inga)
  • Antonio Q”Apaj Conde (Aymara)

Day 1 Recap:

Indigenous Languages as Contributors to the Preservation of Biodiversity


Day 2 - Reclaiming and Strengthening our Indigenous Languages Beyond Our Homes: Methodologies and Practical Approaches

Discussions will present effective methodologies, practical ideas, and successful strategies for implementing best practices for carrying forward the work of reclaiming our languages, cultures, and lands in a holistic manner that affirms our traditional understandings.

Keynote Presentation: Dr. Wilton Littlechild (Cree)

Panel 3: Reclaiming and Strengthening Our Indigenous Languages Beyond Our Homes: Methodologies and Practical approaches

  • Daisee Francour (Oneida), moderator
  • Jennifer Weston (Hunkpapa Lakota, Standing Rock)
  • Tatiana Degai (Itelmen)
  • Juan Solano (Kañari)
  • Richard Grounds (Yuchi, Seminole)

Day 2 Recap: ​​​​​

Working Together to Lighten the Load of Indigenous Language Revitalization



Day 3 - Indigenous Women and the Power of Community Storytelling

Indigenous women play a critical role in the transmission of Traditional Ecological Knowledge through ceremonies, medicinal plants, dances, arts, and proper relations to the land, and are often expressed through language and storytelling. Their leadership in the transmission of Indigenous languages to future generations is essential for the well-being of Indigenous communities and the environment both now and in the future.

Keynote presentation: Indigenous Women and the Power of Community Storytelling
Tarcila Rivera Zea (Quechua)


Panel 4: Indigenous Women in Language Retention and Revitalization

  • Avexnim Cojtí (Maya K’iche’), moderator 
  • Lucy Mulenkei (Maasai)
  • Halay Turning Heart (Yuchi, Seminole) 
  • Rosa Palomino (Aymara) 
  • Vanessa Farrelly (Pertame Southern Arrernte)
  • Valentina Sovkina (Saami)

Panel 5: Media and Storytelling Promoting and Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

  • Shaldon Ferris (KhoiSan), moderator
  • Socorro Cauich (Maya)
  • Dulma Batorova (Buryat)
  • Toroga Denver Breda (Khoikhoi)
  • Vianna González (Maya K’iche’)


Day 3 Recap: 

Creating the Space for and Fulfilling the Responsibility of Indigenous Language Transmission