Native America Calling (NAC) is a radio talk-show connecting traditional and internet radio stations and listeners in dialogue about Indigenous issues. Boasting an audience of approximately half a million listeners throughout Canada and the United States, each episode features experts and guests with callers with a stated goal of improving the lived reality of Native Americans.
The one-hour program airs live, five days a week, from 10-11 a.m. PST (or, 1-2 pm EST). You can listen to the program streaming online, or you can tune-in on your radio if you are in range. If you want to call in, the number is 1-800-99-NATIV. New topics are posted at the beginning of each week and you can also sign up to their mailing list to have topics delivered to you. You can also listen to the archive of past topics, ranging back over a decade, although the program hasn’t always been 5 days per week. The program is produced in Anchorage, Alaska, by the native owned/operated Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
My first weblog posting of Module 1 was a TedTalk and I will continue in a similar fashion for Module 2 in our discussions of indigeneity and stereotyping.
“Remote lands of indigenous peoples are not remote at all. They are homelands of somebody.” In his discussion on Endangered Cultures, Wade Davis covers a lot of ground – from language to landscapes, traditional knowledge holders and indigenous peoples who face unknown modernity. He talks Voodoo, not a black magic cult (that’s a stereotype,) but complex metaphysical worldview. He talks of rites of priesthood of the Kogi, which include a strict 18-year inculturation into the values of their society. He discusses the level of indigenous intuition and relation to landscapes in comparison with the emotional disconnect evident in a contemporary resource-based economy. He talks of Indigenous people that say plants “talk” to them and the impossibility of dissect their explanation of plant taxonomy from a scholarly standpoint.
Davis notes that even those who are aware of the endangered nature of many indigenous cultures still view these cultures as quaint and colorful, however reduced from the live-a-day world of western society. He argues that it is not technology or the change technology brings that threatens indigenous societies, it is an overpowering domination to mimic Westernized notions of how technology should be used, and how change should proceed, that is the root of the threat.
Located on the Adams Lake Band reseve in the Sepwepemc Nation, BC, Chief Atahm School is a parent-run language immersion school and educational program. The program began in 1987 as a language nest modeled in the Maori style of “Te Kohanga Reo” by a group of parents hoping to stem the loss of the Sepwepemc language. Since that time, their program has grown into an internationally celebrated example of successful tribally controlled education. Their Vision Statement reflects a deep respect for the values and traditions of the Sepwepemc.
The school provides full immersion from nursery through grade three, partial immersion for grades four through nine, and adult language courses. As the success of their program has become evident through the students that progress through the school and the revitalization of the Sepwepemc language, they also provide yearly Teacher Training institutes and adaptable curriculum development tools. Building on a tradition of continuing refinement of their programming, Chief Atahm School holds an annual language conference that is well attended by language activists, teachers, and enthusiasts.
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.
After some deep reflection this week regarding Aboriginal educational goals and values, in the context of Canadian/westernized euro-centric education, I have decided to refocus my ETEC521 research from language revitalization to a broader spectrum of Tribally Controlled Education. I think the underlying line of query in the following post still holds true in many ways. How are Aboriginal communities re-establishing their right to culturally appropriate educational contexts?
The goal of my research will be to find ways in which technology can be woven into effective and pedagogically sound methods of language revitalization. Living and working on Haida Gwaii in northern British Columbia, the language I am personally involved with is HlGaagilda Xaayda Kil, the Skidegate dialect Haida Language. I will be looking locally, nationally and globally for exemplary models of technology-assisted language revitalization.
It seems that often times, technology is portrayed as either counter-culture to traditional Aboriginal values, or as a “solution” to engaging with the culture of modern-day Aboriginal youth. Rather than being dichotomous, I think these two viewpoints may be placed in a shifting continuum in which there are no absolutes. In what ways are Aboriginal peoples using technology to revive and revitalize their languages? What novel methods of language revitalization are on the forefront? In what ways might technology reconcile with traditional Aboriginal culture?
Throughout this course I will keep an eye towards how this research relates to Skidegate’s language revitalization initiatives, which are currently in their infancy. During this term I will participate in the Breath of Life Institute, an indigenous language revitalization conference which will likely be reflected in my weblog postings.