Archive for the ‘reports’ Category

News in brief: Circassian in Jordan, LSA letter to Obama

4 May 2011

1. Circassian Language Maintenance In Jordan

After a century of fighting, the 1864 victory of Russia in the Russian-Circassian War meant annexation by a Christian nation in the Caucasus where many had converted to Islam several generations earlier. Over the next half of a century, between two and three million Circassians were either forced to leave or left voluntarily, resettling in nearby areas.

One of the areas where the Circassians settled is now known as Jordan, a country that gained independence in 1946. While the Circassians are today in danger of losing their language, classes are now available and an International Circassian Cultural Academy was established in 2010.

Read the report (with several videos) “Circassian language maintenance in Jordan: Self-identification, attitudes, policies and practices as indicators of minority language maintenance” by Ulle Rannut. Wikipedia and the Ethnologue treat Circassian as two languages, Adyghe (ady) and Kabardian (kbd).

2. The LSA urges signing of Executive Order on Native American Language Revitalization

On April 15, the Linguistic Society of America sent a letter to US President Obama urging him to sign the “Executive Order on Native American Language Revitalization.” The Order was drafted by Obama’s staff members in association with Native American representatives.

The purpose of the Order is to put into effect the “Native American Languages Act” (P.L. 102-524) and the “Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006” (P.L. 109-394). The Order reads, in part:

It is the policy of the federal government to revitalize, and protect the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages to ensure their survival. The federal government shall recognize Native American languages as irreplaceable and integral to the national character. Native languages fulfill a vital role in maintaining cultural traditions and values, family protocols, social cohesion, sacred knowledge, and spiritual continuity.

American residents can e-mail President Obama urging him to sign the Order at Contact the White House. Anyone can write him or telephone his office as noted on that page.

Indigenous language use correlated to well-being in Australia

29 April 2011

The Australian Bureau of Statistics today released a report showing that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in remote areas who speak an Indigenous language are less likely to experience risk factors associated with poor wellbeing.” Those aged 15 to 24 years of age who spoke an Indigenous language were found to be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

The report also shows that while there has been a decrease in the percentage of youths speaking an Indigenous language from 18% in 2002 to 13% in 2008, of those not speaking an Indigenous language at home, 21% are learning one in school.

See the media release and the report for further details.

This post was inspired by “Indigenous language linked to drop in drug abuse” on the ABC News site.

Indian Affairs Council of Minnesota Releases Report

6 April 2011

Serving as a liaison between the State of Minnesota and Native American tribes located there, the Indian Affairs Council of the State of Minnesota was established in 1963 and is the oldest such council in the US.

In 2009, the Minnesota legislature authorized a feasibility study on Dakota (dak) and Ojibwe (oji) revitalization. Last month, the volunteer working group issued the report, titled “Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization In Minnesota.”

The contents of the report are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction: Language Loss
  • Volunteer Work Group on Ojibwe and Dakota Language Revitalization
  • Context: Language Immersion and the State of Language Revitalization
  • Working Group Responses to Issues Identified in Enabling Legislation
    • Directive 1: Existing Language Programs
    • Directive 2: Inventory of Resources
    • Directive 3: Curriculum Needs / Barriers to Teacher Training
    • Directive 4: Curriculum Needs for Teaching Students
    • Directive 5: Meeting Curriculum Needs
    • Directive 6: Creating a Repository of Resources
    • Directive 7: State Technical Assistance
    • Directive 8: Funding
    • Directive 9: Laws, Rules, Regulations and Policies
    • Directive 10: Community Interest
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  1. Volunteer Working Group Membership
  2. Surveys
  3. Models for Language Material Repositories
  4. Research Bibliography

A summary of the report is available on the index page of the MIAC, but the first half will likely be removed, so it is provided below. The second part is at “Minnesota’s Lakota & Ojibwe Language Report.”

  • Dakota and Ojibwe languages are in critical conditions.
  • The population of fluent and first speakers of these languages is small, and only a few first speakers live in Minnesota.
  • Virtually nobody who speaks Ojibwe or Dakota as a first language has standard teaching credentials.
  • Successful models do exist for bringing Indigenous languages from the brink of extinction.
  • More than 100 programs and activities in Minnesota provide exposure to and/or instruction in Dakota and Ojibwe languages, reflecting the importance placed on this effort by language activists, educators, tribal governments and the Minnesota   Department of Education. Few of these programs, however, recognize the essential pedagogic requirements for language   revitalization, which include a role for strong immersion programming and the leadership roles for fluent speakers.  Language immersion programs are crippled by a lack of trained teachers; a dearth of curriculum materials; policies that   adversely affect the licensure, training and availability of required personnel; and limited funding. Currently, only the University of Minnesota campuses in the Twin Cities and Duluth offer preparation for licensure for teaching across the curriculum in Ojibwe and Dakota languages; neither of these operates for teachers in grades 9-12 and subsequently languages are seldom taught formally at that level.

This post was inspired by “Minnesota: Dakota And Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota” on the Indian Peoples Issues and Resources page.