Tribally Controlled Education (refined topic)/ Technology-Enhanced Language Revitalization (initial topic)


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?

Original post:

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.

1 thought on “Tribally Controlled Education (refined topic)/ Technology-Enhanced Language Revitalization (initial topic)

  1. Doug Connery

    It is devastating to see how quickly indigenous languages are becoming endangered and even on the brink of extinction. Much like a living species, once the last fluent speaker dies, the language or dialect is potentially lost forever.

    The Ktunaxa Nation in south-eastern BC is in this situation and as of 2008 only 24 fluent speakers of this isolate language were alive. I worked with the Ktunaxa Nation on a fluent speaker inventory project in 2002 and at that time 38 speakers remained, so attrition has been high, but not surprising as the majority of these speakers are well into their 70’s 80’s and 90’s. One of the goals of the 2002 inventory project was to justify the desperate need to do something to capture the language with technology. Since then they made good progress by initiating a broadband network to connect the communities as a backbone to broadcast Ktunaxa language resources that were being digitized concurrently.

    The link below summarizes some of the work that came out of the project:

    Another resource is a recently completed Master’s Thesis (2010) by Heather Henley from the University of Manitoba who documented the land and language uses of the Ktunaxa Nation Network:

    Let me know if you need further information on this project or someone to contact for more details.


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