Revisiting the State of Indigenous Languages
June 17-18, 2013
University of Arizona, Tucson
The American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) held a two-day conference to address the current state of Indigenous languages in the United States and particularly to question what progress has or has not been made since the passage of the Native American Language Act in 1990 and 1992.
The passage of the Native American Language Act (NALA) at the time was thought to be the legislation that would bring about positive change in the face of the rapid loss of U.S. Indigenous languages. Michael Krauss' (University of Alaska) statistics, presented to Congress in 1990, have often been quoted and still stand as the primary statistics for the state of Indigenous languages.
Using the Krauss' statistics and NALA as a springboard for discussion, the conference convened Native language speakers, educators, activists, students, linguists and others for reflection and dialogue. The conference addressed three key questions related to the vitality of U.S. Indigenous languages: where have we been, what do we know and where are we going? These questions were be applied to the NALA, language documentation, and pedagogical trends. The conference provided an opportunity to make a crtical examination of the history of Indigenous language vitality, existing documentation and the various methodologies.
The conference was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Lannan Foundation.