Indigenous languages

How an El Sereno charter school fought for (and won) the right to teach in an indigenous language

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How an El Sereno charter school fought for (and won) the right to teach in an indigenous language

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Semillas Academy - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Kindergartener Zoe, right, plays the drums during recess at Academia Semillas del Pueblo on Dec. 5, 2012. The LAUSD charter school incorporates language and cultural learning and is part of Semillas Community Schools, which also includes the Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School.

On a main thoroughfare in East Los Angeles, there’s a brightly painted public school: Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School, part of the Semillas school network. Semillas — Spanish for “seeds” — teaches teenagers about their indigenous roots and culture.

Students there learn in Spanish and Nahuatl, incorporating Mayan mathematics and indigenous visual and performing arts. One course teaches indigenous diplomacy and youth leadership skills. Parents and grandparents are integrated into the student’s learning. Read more.

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How An Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language

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by Jordan Kushins

It’s easy to take translations for granted when Google can swap between Albanian and Zulu with the click of a button, but even that tech has real world limitations. Marie Wilcox is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, one of 130 different endangered Native American languages in the United States that don’t have any kind of digital—or analog—legacy.

Over the course of seven years in California’s San Joaquin Valley, she worked with her daughter and grandson to catalog everything she knows about the language. First, she hand-scrawled memories on scraps of paper; then, she hunt-and-pecked on an old keyboard to complete a dictionary and type out legends like “How We Got Our Hands.” Next, she recorded the whole thing on audio for pronunciation—it’s very specific!—and posterity.


International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation (ICLDC)

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The 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC), “Enriching Theory, Practice, & Application,” will be held February 26-March 1, 2015, at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu. The 4th ICLDC is hosted by the Department of Linguistics and the National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The conference program will feature two keynote talks, an integrated series of Master Class workshops and four Special Sessions on Pedagogy in Language Conservation. An optional Hilo Field Study (on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi) to visit Hawaiian language revitalization programs in action will immediately follow the conference (March 2-3).
for more information, Click here

Great Indigenous languages resource

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księżycowy has compiled a long list of Native language learning/teaching resources on the website UniLang Community website.


click here



First Voices: Language Archives Celebrating World Indigenous Cultures

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New App enables Indigenous language speakers to text in their languages

Brentwood Bay, B.C. – FirstVoices Chat, an Indigenous language texting app for Facebook Chat
and Google Talk, is now available at the Apple App Store as a free download for iPad, iTouch
and iPhone. The app contains custom keyboards for hundreds of Indigenous languages in
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The app can be downloaded from:

“We’re excited to launch this new piece of technology, which allows First Nations people to
return to the everyday use of their heritage languages using their mobile devices,” said Peter
Brand, FirstVoices Manager at the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. “The primary audience for
the new app is First Nations youth, but we expect the positive effects of these innovative literacy
tools to ripple out to speakers and learners of all ages.”

FirstVoices Chat was developed by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council with funding from the
First Nations Technology Council. “The First Nations Technology Council is thrilled to
participate in the development of a tool that contributes to First Nations language revitalization
by enabling their use in daily conversations,” said Norm Leech, Executive Director of the FNTC.
The development of the keyboarding technology at the core of FirstVoices Chat was funded by
the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Aboriginal Languages Initiative.

Samantha Etzel, one of eight SENĆOŦEN language apprentices at the LÁU,WELNEW Tribal
School in Brentwood Bay, B.C. says, “It is exciting when my daughter asks me to text words to
her in our language. To have the technology at our fingertips adds to ways of learning for our
community members who live off-reserve, but still have a desire to learn.”

FirstVoices Chat had a high profile introduction in Vancouver on February 24. Their Honours
Lieutenant Governor Steven Point and his wife Gwendolyn, long-time language champions of
the Sto:lo First Nation, exchanged their first text message in their Halq’eméylem language
before several hundred delegates at the First Nations Technology Council ICT Summit.

About the First Peoples’ Cultural Council
The First Peoples’ Cultural Council is a B.C. Crown Corporation with the mandate to support
First Nations in their efforts to revitalize their languages, arts and cultures. FPCC has distributed
more than $22 million to B.C. Aboriginal communities since 1990.

To learn more please visit:


First Peoples’ Cultural Council:

First Nations Technology Council: