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Opinion: Indigenous people revitalizing their languages
Friday, May 27, 2011
Filed Under: Opinion
"In the beginning, the different entities in Creation were given their own languages for communication—birds, animals, fish, for example. The Human Beings too were given their own languages to communicate within their different societies. Each society of people, or nation, on Mother Earth is comprised of the same components—a land base, a history, a government, an economy, an education system, arts (stories, songs, dances), amongst others. These components of the society are linked together within by a language common to that nation—that language being their “gift” from the Creator.
For a nation of people, with their language threading throughout the various components of their society, what exudes from that nation is its overall Culture—its way of doing things, its way of seeing the world (worldview), its way of believing, its values. As a result, when the nation experiences a “shift” in its language by the interjection of another language, the original Culture is correspondingly interrupted and skewed towards a new way of doing things, seeing things, and believing. This is effected change has been named “colonization.”
The more that language shift occurs within a nation, the greater the resulting loss of language and culture. Language shift has been experienced today by virtually every indigenous nation in North America. However, the shift has not entirely been by choice but more as a result of forced policies from a larger and more dominant foreign society through its government, its education system, its economics, its religion, and other components of its society. "
Get the Story:
Bonnie Jane Maracle: Revitalizing Indigenous Languages: Why and How (Indian Country Today 5/25)
Witness list for SCIA hearing on Native language education (5/24)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on languages (5/19)
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