Native American Languages: Past, Present, and Future Tense
Leaders: Meg Noori (University of Michigan) and Fred White (Slippery Rock University)
In 1911 the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology published Part 1 of the Handbook of American Indian Languages by Franz Boas, which marked a shift in the study of North American Indigenous Linguistics. Previously shaped by colportage (the creation of devotional literature) and the publication of dictionaries used in trade, warfare and missionary work, Indigenous languages became sets of linguistic artifacts studied by non-Natives and used by increasingly fewer Native people.
This workshop will consist of an introductory presentation on the field of Native American Indigenous Linguistics--briefly addressing the diversity of languages on the continent, issues resulting from contact, including bilingualism and subsequent loss of Indigenous languages--and then turn to a discussion of the current state of ancestral language maintenance and the ways Indigenous languages have entered a new era of linguistic and literary revival. Given the current efforts of revitalization, we will conclude with scenarios offering ideas about the future of Native languages in our communities.
Primary and secondary texts in several languages will be shared as examples for attendees. Students and scholars of all disciplines are invited to consider various intersections of research and the potential for contemporary use of Native languages to alter the landscape of Native studies as a whole.
Margaret Noori / Giiwedinoodin (Anishinaabe heritage, waabzheshiinh doodem) received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is Director of the Comprehensive Studies Program and teaches American Indian Literature at the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on the recovery and maintenance of Anishinaabe language and literature. Current research includes language proficiency and assessment, and the study of indigenous literary aesthetics. To see and hear current projects visit www.ojibwe.net where she and her colleague, Howard Kimewon, have created a space for language shared by academics and the native community.
Frederick White, Ph.D, Associate Professor: teaches linguistics, composition, and literature in the English Department at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. His research explores and examines historical, linguistic, and literary topics regarding Indigenous education, identity, language revitalization, oral literature, and contact narratives, all with a keen interest in his Haida culture. His first book, Ancestral Language Acquisition Among Native Americans: A Study of a Haida Language Class, addresses Native American and First Nations students' learning and participation in the classroom setting. He has a chapbook entitled White Feathers, published by the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. His most recent book, forthcoming, is entitled, Emerging from out of the Margins: Essays on Haida Language, Culture, and History.