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Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization Goals: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Schools

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Title: Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization Goals: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Schools
Authors: Wilson, Peter
Issue Date: 03 Mar 2017
Description: This paper examines a high-school based project in which elders share their expertise with students who produce family and community videos. The paper provides feedback and suggestions for the development of language and cultural activities in the Gwaʔsəla / N̓ akwaxdaʔx̌w community, supports the Eke Me Xi school plans to intergrate more traditional knowledge and language into school activities, and provides an approach for developing indigenous language and cultural activities while preserving the overall expectations of the state/provincial educational system, following the “two world view” in Wilson and Kamanā, (2006). The video project, which beg̓an in 2013, assists revitalization activities at Eke Me Xi High School and the Gwaʔsəla / Nakwaxdaʔx̌w Band located at Tsulquate, a community of 850 located on the Northeast end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. There are approximately 20 speakers of their language, Bakwəmkala, a Southern North Wakashan language. An initial examination of the 2013 videos revealed numerous examples of traditional knowledge, but only 10% of the language used was in Bakwəmkala. To guide the identification of cultural traditions, language usage, and modes used to convey information (e.g. sound, image), I collaborated with the Elders Council and Band Council using Action Research. The analysis was framed by Cultural Historical Activity Theory (e.g. Yamagata-Lynch, 2010), a theory that enables researchers to examine community activities. This framework was used to investigate a “unit of analysis” in order to expose the core element of the traditional knowledge conveyed in the videos. In addition, Situated Learning (e.g. Rogoff, 2013) provided a theoretical model to examine the contextualization of traditional knowledge in the school-based setting. Analysis indicates that the videos situate activities in traditional settings (e.g. homeland, Reserve, family, fishing) and provide connections to the setting through the story, guidance from elders, explanations in English, and various modes (e.g. illustrations, sound). The focus on traditional settings suggests that “activity setting” is central for Gwaʔsəla / N̓akwaxdaʔx̌w traditional knowledge, and perhaps central to Bakwəmkala, a language that requires deictic and locational marking to situate activities and identify setting. Authentic integration of indigenous knowledge and language into curriculum, therefore, requires connections with traditional settings. Activities should provide guidance to facilitate student understanding of the Gwaʔsəla / N̓ akwaxdaʔx̌w world, such as those exemplified in the videos (e.g. guidance from elders during activities). Next steps include materials planning and implementation as well as research into activities to support acquisition of Bakwəmkala, including locational language systems. References Rogoff, B. (2013). “Learning by Pitching in.” Lecture at U.C. Davis School of Education's Distinguished Educational Thinker Series, April 18, 2013. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdh_GjBsphg Wilson, W. and Kamanā, K. (2006). “A Hawaiian Revitalization Perspective on Indigenous Youth and Bilingualism.” In L. Wyman, T. McCarty, and S. Nicolas (eds.) Indigenous Youth and Multilingualism Language Identity, Ideology, and Practice in Dynamic Cultural Worlds. London: Routledge, pp. 187-200. Yamagata-Lynch, L. (2010). “Understanding Cultural Historical Activity Theory”. In Activity Systems Analysis Methods: Understanding Complex Learning Environments. Springer Science+Business Media, pp. 13-26. Retrieved from: http://www.springer.com/cda/content/ document/cda_downloaddocument/9781441963208- c1.pdf?SGWID=0-0-45-963464-p173992176.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/42057
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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