Te Köhanga Reo—Maori “Language Nests”


This website describes and provides a history about Maori Language Nests in New Zealand.  In the Köhanga Reo (language nests), young children (often selected from less advantaged homes) are cared for by Maori elders and other adults completely in Maori.  The conception, organization and promotion of this very successful initiative were part of a grass-roots effort that began in 1982, as Maori elders became concerned about the future of their language and culture.

These “nests” or daycare facilities support language revitalization theory by facilitating the transmission of language between generations—what some say is the key to successful revitalization.  Language nests led to language classes for the parents, instruction in Maori for school-aged children, and influenced educational policy.  This website is a must for anyone who would like to know more about the “language nest” model of revitalization.

There are a variety of links that can be navigated throughout the site including an About Us section (this gives a great deal of information about the program’s particular details as well as some of the history behind it) and an events section (various conferences are listed here).

December 1, 2009   No Comments

Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke ‘elikōlani : University of Hawaii’s College of Hawaiian Language (M4-4)


Home to one of the most renowned and successful language revitalization programs in the world, the University of Hawaii Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language website is an excellent place to start to research Hawaiian language or language revitalization.  As the website proclaims, the College has two divisions, the Studies and Academic Divisions; the Studies Division is where students learn and learn in the Hawaiian language, and the Academic Division is devoted to linguistic and cultural research.

Of interest on this page is the fact that it is a completely bilingual (Hawaiian and English) or monolingual (Hawaiian only) page, and upon arriving, one will notice that English is not the dominant language.  This is living evidence that language revitalization can be successful in many ways.  The second thing to note is the page on the Indigenous Teacher Education Mission.  The University is seeking out Hawaiian people with a strong language and cultural background to be trained as teachers for the many immersion schools in Hawaii.

Overall, this is an informative, general information site about a culture that is making use of technology to enhance the language revitalization process. (If you would like more information on the history of their tech-based language revitalization program, read Mark Warschauer’s work, in particular:

Warschauer, M. & Donaghy, K. (1997). Leokï: A powerful voice of Hawaiian language revitalization. Computer Assisted Language Learning 10(4), pp.349-361.

December 1, 2009   No Comments

Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (M4-3)


This is the website of the British Columbia Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.  On this website, information about certain aspects of Provincial – Aboriginal relations can be found, such as news releases and photographs of events in B.C.

Important and/or useful links from this site are:

This website would be useful in collecting general information about B.C. Government-First Nations relations, and would be a good starting place for research into this or any related issue.  I came across this site in search of solid information about language policy and indigenous languages in B.C., and I have to say I was disappointed to come up short.  The FPHLCC site, however, provides a great deal of information about languages in B.C.

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Terralingua: Unity in Biocultural Diversity (M4-2)


This is the website for Terralingua, an organization devoted to the “integrated protection, maintenance and restoration of the biocultural diversity of life – the world’s invaluable heritage of biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity – through an innovative program of research, education, policy-relevant work, and on-the-ground action” (para. 1).

On the site, you will find links to the organization’s statement of purpose, administration, and history, as well as a listing of the initiatives that they are carrying out.  Terralingua’s work relates to indigenous cultures in that part of their mission is to promote linguistic diversity among humankind—indigenous and non-indigenous alike.  Because indigenous languages and cultures are the ones that are endangered, much focus is placed on these languages.  In addition, one of their focuses is in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and language loss, and the effects on biodiversity.

This information would be a great starting point for someone looking for information on research initiatives involving indigenous people worldwide.  Though not all updated, the following sections will be of use to the researcher:

  • Activities (Outlines some of the specific projects undertaken by Terralingua)
  • Publications (Articles and print material published by Terralingua)
  • Resources (FAQ’s, Introductory information about biodiversity and TEK)

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Denendeh: the Dene Nation’s Denendeh Environmental Working Group climate change case study (M4-1)


This article, available on the Encyclopedia of Earth website outlines a study which was carried out by the Dene Nation’s Denendeh Environmental Working Group (DEWG).  The article outlines Dene observations and knowledge about the issue of climate change, as it relates to the people and the land.  The article presents a brief history and background of the Dene Nation, describes the DEWG and its guiding questions:

  • Is there a difference today in Denendeh and is climate change having a role in these changes, what else may be causing it?
  • What climate change programs are there and how can our communities be more involved in research and communication about these changes?
  • If it is important to document Dene climate change views/knowledge, how should we communicate this knowledge with each other and to policymakers, governments, and others outside the north?
  • Is the DEWG a good mechanism to discuss climate change, what should we be talking about, and what else do we need to do?

The article would be a great resource for anyone who is interested in environmental issues and traditional aboriginal knowledge, as the article was written by the DEWG for Dene and other people.  It should be noted that the article is part of a larger body of work in the Encyclopedia of Earth called “The Changing Arctic: Indigenous Perspectives”.

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Assembly of First Nations Blog (M3-5)


The Assembly of First Nations is a national aboriginal advocacy organization in Canada that works alongside government to work on behalf of first nations on major political issues.  Although the Assembly of First Nations’ website is very informative and would prove a valuable resource in research of First Nations political involvement, I feel it is also beneficial to discuss the Assembly’s blog.

The blog provides opinion and information on political issues as well as links to relevant journalism.  The reason I chose to highlight this blog is that I am curious to know why it has not been updated since the 2008 federal election.  In fact, upon browsing through the archives, it appears that only a small number of posts appear under each month, many of which are links to resources on the Assembly’s site and news stories.

I am left wondering about the effectiveness of blogging when trying to reach First Nations in Canada.  Is it that the general public does not know about the blog? Is it that blogging is not a popular tool for first nations? Or, did the blog administrators simply lose interest?  Blogging can be a powerful tool to convey information, especially since readers can subscribe and read fairly quickly and easily.  In addition, through my travels on the web, I have seen other similar blogs that are thriving.  Upon further thought, perhaps it is the audience—the other blogs may be more popular to a more techno-savvy generation?

This is just another example of an aboriginal advocacy group attempting to use technology to reach other aboriginals, in an attempt to work through the decolonization process—in this case by advocating involvement in politics.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

Nigetakiya—Native American Cultural Awareness Association (NACAA) (M3-4)


This resource, subtitled the Native Student Newspaper, offers links, videos, postings, and notice of lectures related to culture, colonization, rights and change.  Based out of the University of Wisconsin, Nigetakiya serves also as a centre point of contact for the NACAA at the school.  The goal of Nigetakiya is to give an authentic voice to 21st century native students, and provide and outlet for decolonization of all native students.

From the home page, one can navigate to explore videos, lectures, blog entries, press releases, environmental issues and a student voices section.  Below is a video that describes the clothing drive that is currently taking place through the NACAA—the students are collecting clothing for the Menominee people in north eastern Wisconsin.


In addition to providing information pertinent to the UW student body, Nigetakiya also links to the First Nations Network blog.

Research interests might include post-secondary native studies, decolonization in post-secondary education, and the use of digital technology to create a common ground, which, in this case, is made for native students in Wisconsin and world-wide.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

Survival International (M3-3)


A non-profit organization founded in the U.K. in 1969, Survival International claims to be the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide.  Through education, advocacy, and campaigning, Survival International supports tribal groups by assisting them in finding and broadcasting their voice.  Different from other similar organizations, Survival International refuses to accept sponsorship from governmental bodies, and depends on the public for operation funding.  They are also the recipients of many awards worldwide for their work in protecting the rights of tribal peoples.

Through the website, one can obtain basic information on the most endangered tribes in the world, download and/or purchase resources for further information and research, donate to the organization, and subscribe to their newsletter.  Below is an approximately 6 minute video that Survival International has produced as part of its “Uncontacted Tribes” campaign (all campaign videos are available in full-length on the Survival International website).


This sit might be of interest in research of outside efforts to aid in the decolonization process.  Survival International was founded by members of a colonizing nation but are using media to advocate for indigenous rights—particularly those tribe at highest risk of obliteration.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

First Nations Network: A Network of Indigenous Voice (M3-2)


The First Nations Network provides an online space where writers can post stories, ideas and comments for all to see.  Set up like a blog, on this site, people from all over share their stories, videos and podcasts; others contribute by commenting on the stories, creating a dialogue around common experiences, and participating in the decolonization process by uniting thorough technology.  The Indigenous Vision section proclaims that:

This site is created to be a voice of the people. All of the relatives here on Turtle Island; a place to connect, and send your voice. We must use our relations as well as our sacred instructions to heal in the midst of the oppression we have lived under. The only way we will heal; is by hearing, and living the lifeway of our relations.

There are subsections that can be found on the home page of The First Nations Network which include:

These sections as well as sections for features, events, videos and podcasts are all accessible via the homepage.  In addition, the Resources page allows for individuals to submit information concerning local tribal issues and information to a public forum.

The First Nations Network is pertinent to research on the use of technology in facilitating the process of decolonization.  Created by First Nations for other First Nations, the site offers an outlet, a space for sharing and analyzing common experience, and support for healing.  In addition, particularly of interest to K-12 education research, the site also values the voice of youth, and many references and links to youth-led initiatives can be found; see for example, the Native Youth Movement Statement for Anti-Olympic Campaign for a pointed and political statement, accompanied by some biting comments.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

Ethnologue (M3-1)


The Ethnologue is a reference resource that catalogues all of the world’s known living languages—all 6909 of them.  The Ethnologue is available to order in print or a version can be found free online.  It was created by scholars through SIL International (Summer Institute of Linguistics), an organization dedicated to working with speakers of lesser-known languages (many of which are indigenous languages or variants of indigenous languages) to record, study and assist in revitalizing the language.

Upon arrival at the home page, there are many ways to look up language information.  One can look at language families, geographical regions or endangered languages only, for example, in order to find what they are looking for.  Maps, diagrams and statistical summaries of language-related information are available throughout the site, and for each entry there is a breakdown of the language’s status: how many speakers of the language, with a distinction between L1 (native) and other speakers; where the language is spoken in the world; how many cultural members of the language group exist; the language family it belongs to; other names for the language; and where to find more information on the language—often links to academic articles.

Of particular interest to the study of indigenous community reality is the Endangered Languages section.  Here you will find not only information regarding specific languages, but also a link to SIL’s endangered languages policy, which explains more about why linguists want to work with these languages and stop them from dying out unrecorded.  It is also important to keep in mind, however, that much of the research is carried out by non-cultural members, and that despite the well-meaning efforts of SIL International, after centuries of colonization, some communities may not desire to have their language recorded or documented.  After all, at its outset, SIL was a Christian organization that began by translating biblical information for indigenous communities–colonization at its best.  Although SIL is still guided by Christian principles, the Ethnologue and other SIL publications are now non-denominational, research-based works.

November 10, 2009   No Comments

Media Awareness Network (M2-5)


The Media Awareness Network (MNet), is a Canadian-based non-profit organization that promotes critical media literacy education and digital literacy.  This website is likely one of the most comprehensive collections of media and digital literacy resources on the web, and is a “must see” for any K-12 teacher.  Because MNet is a Canadian organization, a quick search within the parameters of province, grade level and subject area will yield lesson plans and other resources which are custom made for Canadian K-12 education.  The MNet database is so vast that it is often best to do a keyword search in order to find something suitable for the topic that you want to work with.

A basic search using “aboriginal” as the key word yields several useful, current and engaging resources.  Lesson plans and resource suggestions for all grade levels and a variety of subject areas are present, many of which deal with the issue of stereotypical representation of aboriginal culture in the media and racism.  In addition, there are also some lessons that deal with aboriginal history in the arts media.  These lesson plans are highly engaging, categorized in age-appropriate groupings, and relate directly to many provincial learning outcomes Canada-wide. The following is a selection of available aboriginal media resources available from MNet:

Media Portrayals of Aboriginal People—Introduction

Native Names and Imagery in Sports

Aboriginal People in the News

The Development of Aboriginal Broadcasting in Canada

These lessons are a great way to share a bit about aboriginal culture in a classroom setting, and are sure to spark some great discussions!

October 19, 2009   No Comments

The Aboriginal Multimedia Society (M2-4)


AMMSA is an aboriginal communications organization that works to facilitate fair and objective news coverage for and by aboriginal people. Originally founded in 1983 under the Alberta Societies Act, AMMSA has survived as a society through membership subscriptions and government funding when available.  The society manages several communications ventures Canada-wide, and provides training and support for other Aboriginal groups looking to establish their own communication ventures.

In addition to providing support and managing a network of information and communications, AMMSA provides via their website, an extensive listing of links to other special interest resources.  There are sections for Career Opportunities, Community Events, Scholarships, Health Information and Book Reviews as well as educational links and historical information.  Since its incorporation in 1983, the society has been able to maintain its vision and commitment to the aboriginal population, despite various funding cuts and challenges.

Of special interest may be the education section of the site which offers links to Windspeaker online, an aboriginal-content news source for all ages. Windspeaker’s classroom edition caters to issues in aboriginal education, and attempts to highlight issues for youth.  There are also lesson ideas offered on this page, and from what I have seen, it appears to be yet another great resource, and example of the use of technology to promote culture.

October 19, 2009   No Comments

First Perspective: National Aboriginal News (M2-3)


First Perspective is a website devoted to Canada-wide aboriginal news issues.  In addition to a listing of recent headlines affecting Aboriginal Canadians and Aboriginal issues world-wide, the site also offers a listing of news releases, employment opportunities, Aboriginal event listings, and links to regular Aboriginal journalistic columns such as Under the Northern Sky.  Several advertisements also are present on the page, all related to Aboriginal events and issues.

One ad that caught my eye was a small one in the corner of the main page.  There is a First Nations art image in black and red with a caption that reads, “Learn More about B.C. Hydro Careers”.  Clicking on the image takes you to a pdf full page ad, targeting prospective aboriginal employees.

I could not get a sense of how well-used this resource is, but it appears to be updated regularly and the news feed is current.  This could be a great site to introduce students to, especially at the secondary level.  First Perspective is a great example of the use of internet technology to connect aboriginal people in Canada.

October 19, 2009   No Comments

Shared Learnings (M2-2)


As I mentioned in my previous post, Shared Learnings is a document that was published in 2006 by the British Columbia Ministry of Education.  The purpose of Shared Learnings is to assist teachers in the incorporation of B.C. Aboriginal content in various K-10 subject areas.  It is the goal of the Ministry and document collaborators that through the resources presented in this document, teachers will feel more comfortable in including aboriginal content in their program, and in turn, aboriginal and non-aboriginal learners alike will become engaged with the content, developing an understanding of and appreciation for traditional knowledge.

The resource is divided up into sections based on grade level and subdivided by subject area.  In addition to providing curricular connections, Shared Learnings provides resource lists in each section, instructional strategies, ideas for projects and activities, sample lesson plans, ideas for planning and implementing your program, as well as strategies for discussing sensitive issues.

Shared Learnings, in my experience, is a resource that is widely unknown to practicing B.C. teachers, and upon stumbling across this resource again myself, I am reminded that I need to go through it again to see how I can improve my practice.  In my experience, many teachers often push aside aboriginal content in favour of the need to “meet literacy or numeracy outcomes”.  Through the use of Shared Learnings as a starting point, I think that B.C. teachers can in fact guide students toward meeting all outcomes, through the incorporation of traditional aboriginal content, rather than in addition to exploring aboriginal content.

October 19, 2009   No Comments

SD #71’s Index of Websites by, for and about Aboriginal Peoples (M2-1)


This page, a subpage of the B.C. School District #70 (Comox Valley) website, outlines some online resources pertaining to aboriginal education, political and historical information, as well as sites for aboriginal youth.  The site is a good starting point for researching aboriginal issues in Canada, and all links are current and functional.

Perhaps one of the most useful points for educators might be the lesson plan section.  Here, I found a project created by a team of middle school teachers from all over Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast called “Social Justice through Literature Written by Aboriginal Authors”.  In the activities and lessons that are presented here, students are encouraged to think critically about aboriginal values and history through a social justice lens.  The literature that is used in the lessons is referenced for the most part, but teachers could likely adapt the lessons to use local stories and work.

The project is designed as an extension to a document published by the B.C. Ministry of Education in 2006 called Shared Learnings, a document created in order to help facilitate the incorporation of B.C. aboriginal knowledge into the K-10 classroom.  Lessons are also laid out with direct reference to the B.C. Prescribed Learning Outcomes for Language Arts and Social Studies 6-8.  Finding this project was timely for me, as our local union embarks on the creation of a Social Justice committee.  With the relatively recent creation of the Social Justice 12 course in B.C., I believe it is imperative that middle and elementary schools follow suit.

October 19, 2009   No Comments

Seventh Generation Club (M1-5)


The Seventh Generation Club, sponsored by the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA), First Nations Health Council, and the Vancouver Canucks, is a club for First Nations youth in B.C.  They offer educational incentives and support for students in making healthy choices, staying in school and staying active in their community.  Through incentives such as prizes, contests, free daytimers, and free sports and science days, the Seventh Generation Club aims to support First Nations youth in creating a vision of their own future.

I found this website while I was searching for youth and culture information, and then I received in my mailbox at school, Seventh Generation Club agendas (daytimers) for my First Nations students.  Most of my students (grade 7 at a 6-8 middle school) are proud to be a part of the club—they use their SGC agenda rather than the school agenda, and they take the newsletters home.  I have a group of students who are proud to be First Nations, and are proud of their culture, and it is really great to see—I wonder how much influence the club has had on them, or whether the efforts made by both the communities and school district are coming to fruition. Either way, the site is intriguing, and certainly offers some great opportunities for B.C. First Nations youth.

September 28, 2009   No Comments

Wade Davis on Endangered Cultures (M1-4)


As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Davis describes the current state of endangered indigenous cultures through photos and experiences, and describes the alarming rate at which they are disappearing from the face of the planet.  This talk relates to our discussion about whether or not technology is “culturally neutral”.  Davis describes the many similarities among human beings, but also discusses some of the differences in cultural traditions and values, describing the “myriad cultures of the world that make up a web of spiritual life and cultural life that envelops the planet”.

Davis discusses beliefs, and experiences that outline some of the endangered cultures that he has had experience with, and describes some of the challenges that are faced by those cultures.  In closing, Davis maintains that through media (print, electronic, cinematic), National Geographic hopes to foster understanding and appreciation of all cultures, in hopes that precious cultures are not lost to (or in) the masses.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Tseshaht First Nation Website (M1-3)

URL: http://www.tseshaht.com/?page=1

Located in what are now referred to as Barkley Sound and the Alberni Valley, the Tseshaht First Nation is an active community of about 900 members, who maintain resource-based, educational and health initiatives in pursuit of sustainability and self-sufficiency.  This website provides viewers a brief overview of the history of the nation, including territory maps and information about influential community members such as George Clutesi.

In browsing this site as a non-member, I hoped to learn a little more about the history of the territory that I now call home, and a little more about my neighbours, the Tseshaht First Nation.  I was able to find some general information, look at pictures, and listen to their Welcome Song.  The site is set up for community members as well, and has information about events, facility rentals and administration contact information.  I found that the site had almost a “touristy” feel to it—I’m not really sure who the intended audience is, but I think that members and non-members alike will be able to find some information about the community and their territory and traditions.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

The First Peoples’ Language Map of British Columbia (M1-2)


First created in 2005 with the support of the British Columbia Ministry of Education, the First Peoples’ Language Map of B.C. is a project that has organized and categorized the indigenous languages of British Columbia by name(s), location and language family—both in a list and interactive map format.  In addition to the aforementioned language resources, there is a listing of First Nations in B.C., as well as a listing of “Community Champions” from various communities in B.C.: champion artists and language activists.

Perhaps the most informative section of the site, particularly to those who have little knowledge of the linguistic diversity in B.C., is the interactive map on the main page.  Viewers are able to examine contemporary as well as “sleeping” languages, and can customize the map view to suit their needs and interests.  The inclusion of sleeping languages demonstrates the urgency of the issue of language revitalization in B.C., and will inform both indigenous and non-indigenous viewers of the diversity and jeopardy faced by B.C. First Nations.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

First Voices: Language Archives Celebrating World Indigenous Cultures (M1-1)

URL: http://www.firstvoices.com/scripts/WebObjects.exe/FirstVoices.woa/wa/file

The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, with the support of government agencies such as the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the British Columbia Ministry of Aboriginal Relations, as well as other partners, has created a set of online tools to assist indigenous people with indigenous language instruction, exploration and cultural revitalization.

Writing systems, images, sounds, videos, and games are embedded on the site, and many are accessible by the general public (some language resources are password protected so as to respect the customs of those particular communities).  In addition to an interactive map and listing of many indigenous languages in Canada, the website also provides a section specifically for children at http://www.firstvoiceskids.com/ , where many languages can be explored by clicking on pictures for sounds, videos and writing.

This site is an attempt to use digital technology to connect people with their language, and by extension, their culture.  In addition to focusing on indigenous community members and their efforts in language documentation and revitalization, in many instances, this site also provides the opportunity for non-community members to explore indigenous languages and to learn more about the diversity of indigenous languages in Canada.

September 27, 2009   No Comments