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Title: Rescuing Kawesqar cultural heritage: A community-based documentation initiative 
Author: Tonko, Jose
Date: 2009-03-14
Description: Some years ago the documentation of language and cultural data of Kawesqar, the only Fueguian language that is still spoken today, was aimed at the academic community with scarce participation of the speaker-community except as informants. Rarely the product of research projects reached the community and their evaluation of these results ranged from approval to indifference, indignation, concern. Approval because the language was going to be known by scholars and it would not disappear undocumented; indifference because language death was not something they should care about; indignation because they found out that some of the information they had provided such as songs or visual documentation were commercially used without their permission or compensation; concern because the direct descendants of the community would never know the language and culture of their forebears. The urban Kawesqars, being Spanish monolinguals considered the language of their ancestor the only way to reflect their identity, since no cultural or tradition feature could differentiate them from other ethnic groups. However they had no opportunity to learn the language or get acquainted with the ancestral culture. Therefore they urged the regional government to implement a plan to revitalize the language. This plan worked at a slow pace because of bureaucracy, but it allowed to get enough language materials to start a teaching program. Nevertheless it took long time to get the necessary funding for cultural data documentation. This paper will present how the community worked in this project, how their motivation increased positively and what have been the results of the work done, present problems and future expectations.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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