Monday, November 21, 2005

Endangered Languages Annual Meeting

Today, Amy Price and I presented at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archive Network, sponsored by the Archive of the Indigenous Languges of Latin America here at UT-Austin. Other presenters were from the Smithsonian, U of London, U of Sydney, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Columbia's national archives, U of Alaska, and U of Costa Rica. We spoke about "If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything" and "Honoring Generations." We brought a number of publications from Salina Bookshelf as our exhibits. Salina Bookshelf (Flagstaff, Arizona) specializes in bilingual, Navajo and English language text. We brought one title for adults ("Dine' Bizaad: Speak, Read, Write Navajo") and three juvenile titles, including the popular board book, "Baby's First Laugh." We've learned that, in Navajo culture, the first person who makes a baby laugh then hosts a feast in honor of the child.

Dr. Amelia Zepeda has said that one person can make a difference in recovering language. Model indigenous communities in language recovery efforts include Maori and Native Hawaiian educators. Many of the tribal schools and tribal colleges we work with offer opportunities to strengthen languages, efforts that range from immersion summer camps to participation in language competitions such as those sponsored by the Indigenous Languages Institute of New Mexico.