11-3 Spring 2000 “Native Language” Resource Guide

Feb 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 11-3: Native Language, Resource Guides
By Jon Reyhner

According to Michael Krauss of the Alaska Native Language Center, there are 210 different indigenous languages still spoken by American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States and Canada out of the over 300 spoken before the arrival of Columbus. These languages have survived suppression in boarding schools and catastrophic population declines.

The question today is how much longer will these remaining languages survive. Children are no longer routinely being punished for speaking them in schools, but ironically many are not speaking them now that they can. Today, English language movies, television, and videotapes are doing what a century of washing mouths out with soap in boarding schools could not accomplish.

Krauss’s research indicates that only 35 of the remaining languages in the United States and Canada are still being spoken by children. When children are no longer learning a language, the language is dying.

The indigenous language revitalization resources presented here concentrate on organizations, web sites, and more recent publications that are likely to be readily available on the internet, in bookstores and university libraries, or by interlibrary loan.

Programs and Organizations

American Indian Languages Development Institute (AILDI)

An annual summer training institute for indigenous language teachers and activists. A summary of the 20-year history of AILDI can be found at <http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/TIL_9.html>. For more information contact Karen Francis Begay, AILDI Coordinator; University of Arizona; Department of Language, Reading and Culture; P.O. Box 210069, Tucson, AZ 85721-0069. Phone 520/621-1068. E-mail kfbegay@u.arizona.edu


Endangered Language Fund (ELF)

ELF supports with small grants efforts by Native communities or scholars to do endangered language related work, such as preserving the texts of a Native culture, developing videotaped language instruction, and “generation skipping” language learning. For more information contact ELF, Department of linguistics, Yale University, P. O. Box 208236, New Haven, CT 06520-8236. E-mail elf@haskins.yale.edu


Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL)

FEL publishes a newsletter, holds annual meetings, and supports efforts to preserve indigenous languages with small grants. For more information contact FEL, Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA, England. E-mail nostler@chibcha.demon.co.uk


Institute for the Preservation of the Endangered Languages of the Americas (IPOLA)

IPOLA collaborates with indigenous communities to revitalize and perpetuate the languages and culture of the original inhabitants of the Americas. For more information contact IPOLA, 560 Montezuma Ave. 201-A, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Phone 505/820-0316. E-mail ipola@ipola.org


The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA)

SSILA was founded in 1981 as an international scholarly organization representing American Indian linguistics. Membership is open to anyone interested in the scientific study of the languages of the Native peoples of Americas. Publishes a quarterly newsletter and a monthly e-mail bulletin. For more information contact SSILA, P.O. Box 555, Arcata, CA 95518. Phone 707/826-4324. E-mail gollav@axe.humboldt.edu



Transitions. (1991). Native Voice Public Television Workshop (VCB Room 172, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717). This film by Blackfeet producers explores the relationship between languages, thoughts, and culture and examines the impact of language loss in Native American communities. The film chronicles the loss of the Blackfeet language from 1890 to 1990. The film also illustrates the commonality of language loss amongst Indian tribes and other ethnic groups in America. A study guide to this video is available at


30 minutes, VHS educational use $99.95. E-mail nv@kusm.montana.edu http://visions.montana.edu/NativeVoices/docs/Films/index.html 

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