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Camas at the center: An integrative model of documentation and revitalization

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Title: Camas at the center: An integrative model of documentation and revitalization
Authors: Anderson, Regan
Jansen, Joana
Underriner, Janne
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2017
Description: This paper discusses an integrative model of language documentation, curriculum development, and linguistics and teacher training, centered in an equitable partnership between academic institutions and Native American language communities. The model is responsive to speech communities and promotes relationships of reciprocity. We highlight a specific project based on wáq’amu ‘camas,’ a plant and root food of North America. The contributions of this paper are (i) to describe our methodology, particularly the overlap of documentation, curriculum development and language teaching, and discuss how it has been strengthened via collaborative partnerships, and (ii) to argue that this pedagogical and documentation approach incorporates human and linguistic rights, and contributes to healing relationships between tribes and the educational systems that perpetuated loss of language and culture. Through new models and approaches, these same systems then can assist in language and culture restoration. The specific project we discuss involves a number of components. Elders of two dialects of the Ichishkíin (Sahaptin) language contributed their knowledge. Also involved were two documentation projects, a reservation-based high school language course, and three university courses: a linguistics seminar focused on language revitalization through place-based learning, a two-year language course, and a summer institute language class for speech community members and non-tribal university students. A specific aim of the language revitalization course was to address requests of speech communities, which are increasingly looking for linguists who are trained in second language teaching, curriculum development, and collaboration. Students of the course worked together to document (in Ichishkíin) wáq’amu identification, life cycle, gathering, prepation and preservation. They developed lesson plans and materials with the input of tribal teachers. The curriculum was piloted and refined at a summer institute, which led to additional documentation. The materials generated are now used as tools to further document language and processes involving wáq’amu. In this model, a topic of importance to the speech community centers the efforts of documentation, curriculum development, and training. University and tribal institutions benefit as do their students and instructors. We argue that honoring and incorporating tribal values promotes the human and linguistic rights of Native teachers, students and communities (Roskos 2004, Falcón and Jacob 2011, Brayboy et al. 2012). Furthermore, through sharing linguistic and cultural knowledge, not only are products improved, but relationships between academic and tribal institutions move towards healing (Falcón and Jacob 2011, McCarty and Lee 2014). Brayboy , B. M. J., Fann, A. J., Castagno, A. E., & Solyom, J. A. (2012). “Postsecondary education for American Indian and Alaska Natives: Higher education for nation building and self-determination”. ASHE Higher Education Report, 37(5), 1‒154. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Falcón, S. and M. Jacob. (2011). “Human rights pedagogies in the classroom: Social justice, US Indigenous communities, and CSL projects.” Societies Without Borders 6, 23-50. McCarty, T. L. & Lee, T.S. (2014). “Critical Culturally Sustaining/Revitalizing Pedagogy and Indigenous Education Sovereignty.” Harvard Educational Review 84, pp. 101-124. Roskos, K., Tabors, P. O., Lenhart, L. (2004). Oral Language and Early Literacy International Reading Association. Retrieved from
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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