As a North Vancouverite, I thought it would be interesting and beneficial to do some digging into the rich First Nations cultural history in my own backyard. The Squamish Nation is amalgamation of many bands (I just learned this!). The reason for their amalgamation in the early 1920s is eloquently explained in a great media production found on the Squamish Nation Network website. I found the use of media on their website to be outstanding, particularly the informative and interesting 15 minute video I’ve provided the link to. It’s a great example of First Nations People using media themselves to tell their own story. I hope you’ll take the time not only to watch the video, but to explore the website and learn more about my neighbours, the Squamish Nation!
Dustin Rivers is a young language revitalization activist of the Squamish Nation. He does not profess to be a language expert or even fluent in the language he is helping to teach, but he saw a chance to promote the revival of his language through engaging his community (noting that “Social Media is just the beginning!”). Launched on November 17, 2010, Dustin’s website SquamishLanguage.com has served to promote language classes in the Squamish Valley, discuss the basic tenets and importance of language immersion around the home, promote two podcasts (one relating to language lessons and one relating to cultural icons, knowledge keepers, and leaders), study scripts for “word-of-the-day” posts, invite community members to play traditional games and language-fluency games, and more.
It is also notable that this initiative is not (yet?) officially sanctioned by the Squamish Nation, nor does it have any financial sponsorship. This website serves as an example of how one Aboriginal youth is successfully initiating a grass-roots revival of his heritage language, using social media as a distribution platform. The Na Tkwi Sníchim podcast is especially relevant for language enthusiasts looking for a model to base their own language initiatives around.
The celebration of this successful language initiative to date is heartening and worth keeping track of.