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Bringing it together: Implementing community-based Tahltan language revitalization research

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Title:Bringing it together: Implementing community-based Tahltan language revitalization research
Authors:Thompson, Judith
Dennis, Angela
Dennis, Odelia
Alderete, John
Contributors:Thompson, Judith (speaker)
Dennis, Angela (speaker)
Dennis, Odelia (speaker)
Alderete, John (speaker)
Date Issued:12 Mar 2015
Description:A member of the Tahltan Nation carried out research that focused on Tahltan community experiences of language revitalization (Author, 2012). Conversations with fluent speakers, language teachers, educators, administrators, and language learners informed the investigation with their ideas and experiences regarding Tahltan language revitalization. The original research questions focused more on Tahltan cultural knowledge, but after conversations with several of the co-researchers, the researcher was guided to refine the research questions to focus more specifically on Tahltan language revitalization.

The investigation addressed three questions that focused on how language revitalization is connected to health and healing, as well as researching what has been done and what still needs to be done to revitalize the Tahltan language. “How can Tahltan language revitalization positively affect the lives of my people?” Language revitalization was seen to be the start of a process in which our people can heal from impacts of past losses by reclaiming our language, culture, and identity, thereby allowing our voices to become stronger and healthier. “In the past and present, what has been done to maintain, preserve, and revitalize the Tahltan language?” The status of the language was assessed by finding out where the language is being used, as well as listing both human and documentation resources. “In the future, what do my people need to do to continue to maintain, preserve, and revitalize our Tahltan language?” From what was learned from co-researchers, scholars who have worked with our Tahltan communities, other Indigenous community language revitalization experts, and international language revitalization scholars, suggestions were provided that could be used by a Tahltan language governing body that needed to be formed in the future. This newly formed governing body would be able to use these recommendations to deal with the assessment of the language, community support, and language revitalization programs.

From this research, a Tahltan Language Revitalization Framework has been developed focusing on four areas: governance, language programs, documentation, and training and professional development. The ways in which community members in all three Tahltan communities are implementing this framework will be discussed, with examples from all four areas being highlighted, such as: the formation of the Dah Dzahge Nodesidē/Tahltan Language and Culture Council, language nests, Master-Apprentice Program teams, the creation of a significant Tahltan dictionary (print and online), children’s language books, and a Bachelor of Education in Indigenous Language Revitalization being offered in our territory.

Author. (2012). Hedekeyeh Hots’ih Kāhidi – “Our Ancestors are in us”: Strengthening
our voices through language revitalization from a Tahltan worldview. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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