Indigenous languages won’t survive if kids are learning only English

AUTHOR Jane Simpson

The question of what language(s) to teach Indigenous students, what languages to teach them in, and how to go about it has been generating a little political heat (but not quite so much light) of late…

Indigenous languages won’t survive if Indigenous kids don’t have the opportunity to speak their native languages at school. AAP
The question of what language(s) to teach Indigenous students, what languages to teach them in, and how to go about it has been generating a little political heat (but not quite so much light) of late.

On ABC’s Q&A earlier this month, Yalmay Yunupingu – the widow of Yothu Yindi front man Mandawuy Yunupingu – asked a pointed question about how the teaching of Indigenous languages will be funded given that Article 14 of the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People states that Indigenous children have the right to education in their own language. And a recent piece in The Conversation by Stewart Riddle sparked controversy after he said it could be argued that the emphasis placed on English literacy was no better than discredited historical attempts to make Aboriginal kids more “white”.

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‘Who Speaks Wukchumni?’

AUG. 18, 2014

Throughout the United States, many Native American languages are struggling to survive. According to Unesco, more than 130 of these languages are currently at risk, with 74 languages considered “critically endangered.” These languages preserve priceless cultural heritage, and some hold unexpected value — nuances in these languages convey unparalleled knowledge of the natural world. Many of these at-risk languages are found in my home state of California. Now for some, only a few fluent speakers remain.

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By Using Language Rooted in Andes, Internet Show’s Hosts Hope to Save It


Segundo J. Angamarca, half-hidden in a thicket of electronic equipment on a recent Friday evening, put on his headphones and glanced around the room, a makeshift Internet radio station in his apartment in the Bronx.

“We’re all set, no?” he asked in Spanish. He punched a few buttons on a console and, leaning into a live microphone, began speaking in the percussive phonemes of a completely different tongue, one with roots in the Andean highlands of his native Ecuador.

“We’re here!” he announced. “We’re here tonight for you, to help bring happiness,from Radio El Tambo Stereo.”

And so began the inaugural broadcast of “Kichwa Hatari,” perhaps the only radio program in the United States conducted in Kichwa, an Ecuadorean variant of Quechua, an indigenous South American language spoken mainly in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

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Language Is Key to Culture: Seneca Fight to Save Theirs


In the three Seneca territories in Western New York there are just 30 elders who speak the language fluently—10 years ago there were 200 fluent speakers, reports WGRZ.

The Seneca Nation of Indians is trying to change that and save their language starting with the youth. Kids attending Faith Keepers School in Steamburg, New York, learn about Seneca tradition, culture and are taught the language through activities. During varsity and junior varsity lacrosse games in Gowanda, you’ll hear the games being announced in Seneca by eighth grade students. According to WGRZ, they are the first school in Western New York to announce games like that.

There’s a bigger push to preserve the language because our elders are dying,” teacher Rachael Wolfe told WGRZ. “It’s urgent… We’re at an emergency status as far as our language is concerned.”

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At Language Camp, Reclaiming Tradition Is Between Basketball And Lunch

Alaska has become the second state, after Hawaii, to recognize indigenous languages as official state languages. Supporters hope this will help revitalize those languages, many of which have just a handful native speakers left. Casey Kelly of KTOO reports on one such effort: a kids’ basketball camp, where drills are combined with Tlingit language lessons.

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Languages of indigenous people face neglect: Odisha tribal leaders

Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Aug 9:

“Language is an important part of everyone’s identity and culture. Mother tongue is the foundation of all languages and the identity of all human beings, ” said Lal Bihari Himirika, Odisha’s SC and ST Development Minister while addressing a convention here today on the occasion of ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous People’.

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