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Indigenous youth negotiate language acquisition – An exercise in stewardship, sovereignty, and sustainability

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Title: Indigenous youth negotiate language acquisition ‚Äì An exercise in stewardship, sovereignty, and sustainability
Authors: Burshia, Jodi
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: As indigenous communities continue to be impacted by educational standardization, indigenous youth struggle to learn and maintain their culture and heritage languages. Interpretations and definitions of these constructs frame the approaches to heritage language revitalization and maintenance in and outside of the classroom. In the United States, students are held accountable for learning US history and the English language. Indigenous culture and language education has not been seen as having the same or similar value and is therefore not taught in the classroom with the same emphasis. Educators and parents interpret and respond to these definitions in a multitude of ways amidst current tribal, state and federal legislation. Indigenous youth respond to these same constructs while learning language and culture instructions outside of the home. Therefore, the primary goal of this comparative study is to determine how Laguna youth benefit from heritage language instruction in the school curriculum and to know where they see themselves in the process of current and future implementation. Many Laguna Pueblo students are leaning Keres as a second language as they are surrounded by English language and literacy within a Western school system. Therefore, the questions of “Who is responsible for teaching indigenous culture and language and how are they kept accountable” must be posed. In this construct, it is appropriate to ask how indigenous youth voice, including definitions of “accountability” and “responsibility,” is represented and interpreted in the classroom. The primary method of data collection will be the utilization of digital storytelling technology to document and showcase youth responses to heritage language revitalization and maintenance in the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico. This qualitative data analysis project requires obtaining community definitions of “accountability” and “responsibility” as examinations of personal and community decisions over time and cannot be defined or answered by analyzing one Indigenous community. Instead, the examination of several indigenous communities must be compared and contrasted. I propose the terms “responsibility” and “accountability” within the frame of cultivating stewardship in one’s community. The result will be an examination of the ways youth, parents, and educators perceive themselves in the language planning and implementation process as a form of defining realistic community roles and responsibilities. Language use will serve as a form of stewardship and an act of tribal sovereignty. The analysis of the enactments revealed in the digital stories will set the stage for further understanding of cultural sustainability.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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