I came across this film through the suggestion of a friend, although we are in the final days of ETEC521 it really fits with a number of discussions from weeks past. Released in 1969, the same year as the Canadian Government released the White Paper,The Exiles is an American production chronicling the events of one Friday night for group of Native Americans in Los Angeles. After befriending a group of Native Americans in downtown LA, writer Kent Mackenzie broached the subject of a film about their life experiences, asking the group to help write the script, with their own narration, and with them as partners in the film’s production. Mackenzie was attempting to deconstruct the exotic portrayal of “The Other” common in films about Native Americans of the day. While the film today might be considered a narrative fiction, in the context of it’s writing and release it was considered a documentary. A more thorough description of the film’s history and restoration can be read here – I found it to be a fascinating read.
This article discusses the ideas of Barbara Lockee of Virgina Tech. Lockee did her doctoral dissertation on using hypermedia to perpetuate Native American languages. Although a small percentage of Native American people are fluent in a native language, Lockee suggests that there is hope because many elders believe that maintenance of tribal cultures is dependent on young people’s learning to read, write, and speak their native languages. As part of her dissertation work, Lockee is developing a program to help teach Native Americans their original languages.
Lockee mentions the reasons for why Native Americans lost their languages. Influences such as residential school and moving to reservations heavily affected preservation of native languages. With the lack of ability to communicate to elders, native peoples have a hard time learning about the their culture and heritage.
Lockee discusses how non-urban Native Americans have different learning styles that they have acquired at home. This is something important to consider when implementing language programs with Native students. These progams also need to be relevent and involve the context of actual situations.
The progam that Lockee is creating provides an opportunity for the students to translate and even write their own stories at their own pace. It also promotes critical thinking skills instead of memorization of content. The students would also be allowed to work in pairs to encourage cooperative, inter-related type learning that suits their cultural styles. Although her program is created for the Cherokee language, different tribes can adapt the program by inserting their own legends and languages into the template.
I find this document to be very encouraging as I understand that many Aboriginal peoples in Canada are also concerned with the loss of their language and heritage. Because there are so many different tribes and languages involved, it would be challenging to find or create a program similar to that of Lockee’s to possibly accommodate native language revival in Canada. With the available technology today, it seems quite possible. However, there is a time limit as elders only get older and will no longer be available to aid in the language revival process.
We Shall Remain is a five-part television series (7.5 hours total) which portrays Native American perspectives in the teaching of American history.
The series includes details not commonly found in traditional American socio/history teachings, including violent resistance towards geographical expulsion and opposition to cultural oppression. You can stream the full series online. The website also outlines the program’s new media engagement strategy, involving web-exclusive videos on topics such as language revitalization, tribal sovereignty, and native enterprise. A teacher’s guide is also included to help bridge new media through to classroom learning.