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Arizona Language Vitality Project | AILDI - American Indian Language Development Institute

Arizona Language Vitality Project

The American Indian Language Development Institute was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation, Documenting Endangered Language Program (BCS # 1601738) .The pilot project, Assessing and Documenting the Vitality of Native American Languages includes workshops and a course that was held this past summer. The overall goal of the project, which continues through August 2017, is to review existing assessment tools and to  take steps to create new and innovative instrument (s) for the assessment of language vitality.

The project seeks to ultimately engage the tribes of Arizona in the assessement of their languages. Informal Langauge Vitality meetings have been occuring since the summer of 2014. The meetings were held first, to determine interest in a statewide language assessment prior to submitting the grant to NSF, and secondly, to keep interested tribes and individuals apprised of the project activities. 14 of the 22 tribes in Arizona have participated in either the informative meetings or in the workshops.

The target audience for the grant activities have included tribes that have an interest in doing a survey for their communities. A workshop held in May of this year focused on learning community survey and assessment methodologies. The workshop was followed by a course that was offered as part of AILDI's annual summer insititute. 6 participants, from several different tribal communities (Ak-Chin Indian Community, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Tohono O'odham Community College, Navajo Nation) took the course, Language Survey Data Management.

The most recent activity reunited the class in order to continue to provide instruction on survey implementation. Also, the participants were introduced to grant writing and other skills related to increasing their capacity as researchers. Two guest speakers from New Zealand, Katarina Edmonds, Ph.D., and Tania Ta'ai, Ph.D., joined the worworkshop remotely to share their experiences in developing and assessing langauge related surveys. The workshop included discussions related to identifying several key questions that could be used in a state-wide survey. The discussions will inform the further development of questions that reflect an Indigenous viewpoint regarding language.