Personal Thoughts on Indigenous Language Stabilization
This paper presents personal reflections on factors in the preservation and stabilization of North America indigenous languages. All indigenous languages in North America are in danger of being lost. Linguistic and cultural minority communities must control the institutions that affect their lives if there is to be significant and sustainable improvement in their circumstances. While community control is vital to the stabilization of indigenous languages, development of community control and recruitment of human resources are often complicated by conflicting goals and agenda. Some of these complications are illustrated through examples of indigenous control over schools in Canada and control over indigenous language development in general in Yukon Territoty. Another factor in strategy development's size: the size of a language group as a whole, the size of each community involved in language preservation, the amount the language is used in the group or community, and the number of kinds of situations that exist for using the language. Preservation strategies much combine questions of size with questions of control, and outsiders must be prepared to accept that some communities, especially the smallest ones, will have other priorities than language preservation or revival. Local priorities must be respected. In addition, local leadership must be fostered, the forces that create negativity must be met with healing, and recent accomplishments must be appreciated. Contains 15 references.
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