LCO Ojibwe University
The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded a $6.6 million grant to establish a National Native American Language Resource Center (N-NALRC) over the next five years that is to operate as a consortium of three entities led by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. This award is the first of its kind to implement, lead, and advocate for training and resource development for US Indigenous language education pathways.
“This is not only an acknowledgment of the value of our Native languages but is also a testament to the hard work our community has put into renormalizing our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi over the past 40 years, while also working to uplift other ʻōlelo ʻōiwi nationally and internationally,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, Director of Hawaiʻi ʻImiloa and UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. “Our national team is honored to receive this grant, and we are grateful for the support of Senator Brian Schatz, who authored and shepherded the passage of the NALRC Act.”
“Culturally-based instruction is critical to promoting and revitalizing Native languages,” said Schatz, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “This funding will directly support educational institutions like the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in developing resources and fostering collaboration to promote the use of Native American languages across the country.”
UH Hilo’s Hawaiʻi ʻImiloa Institute will work in collaboration with the University of Alaska Southeast and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University in Wisconsin, programs that have long-standing ties with the Institute and have been working relentlessly to reclaim their languages as well.
University of Alaska Southeast Professor Lance X’unei Twitchell, who earned his Ph.D. at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keʻelikōlani, noted that, “With the opportunities presented in our shared visions and unity, we grow stronger together and keep one another from feeling alone in our efforts to achieve language stability.”
Dr. Migizi Michael Sullivan, Native American Studies Director at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University, went on to say, “The center will be a place where Indigenous communities and groups can draw inspiration, information on best practices, and share strategies to renormalize the use of our languages, to benefit present and future generations of indigenous people.”
University of Alaska-Southeast
The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), in consortia with Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keʻelikōlani (College of Hawaiian Language) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University, have been awarded a grant in the amount of $6,593,862 by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. The consortium will work to implement the project “Aanikoobijigeng, Connecting Generations.”
The consortium aims to establish a National Native American Language Resource Center (N- NALRC) in order to provide high-quality capacity-building services to Regional Centers, technical assistance providers, Tribal organizations, and institutions of higher education, in order to support the revitalization of Native American languages.
Activities will be co-implemented by non-profit partners, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute (Waadoo), ‘Aha Pūnana Leo (‘APL), and Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu (Nāwahī). Consortium members are based in Alaska, Wisconsin, and Hawaiʻi. Languages and tribes represented are X̱aad Kíl, the traditional language of the Haida people; Lingít Yoo X̱ʼatángi, the traditional language of the Tlingit people; Smʼalgyax, the traditional language of the Tsimshian people; Ojibwe from the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe; and Native Hawaiian from Hawaiʻi.
The N-NALRC is designed to reflect the diversity of Native American languages, cultures, and communities. It will provide necessary resources and best practices to support distance learning and increase teacher learning programs, while providing accessible, practical, and high-quality resources for Native American language programs. This will serve as a resource to spread best practices and provide technical support for Native American language medium/immersion programs and schools from pre-K to PhD. The aim is to cultivate and nurture the next generation of Native American language advocates through development programs for youth.
“This is an exciting yet tumultuous time for many Native American languages,” said X̱’unei Lance Twitchell, Professor of Alaska Native Languages at UAS. “There are more fiscal resources available than ever to support Indigenous language reclamation movements, but many of the original languages across the Americas are in a dangerous situation. Attempts to execute mass cultural and linguistic genocide in the Americas were inhumane and widespread, but we grow stronger together and make brighter Indigenous futures. We are excited and honored to be part of this initiative to share knowledge, approaches, love, and hope.”
Éedaa Heather Burge, UAS Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages, remarked, “Aatlein gunalchéesh ldakát yeewháan, thank you everyone who has supported this work. This collaboration with our Hawaiian and Ojibwe partners is a powerful opportunity to continue Native American language revitalization across the US, and we’re humbled but excited that UAS and Southeast Alaska is a part of it. Ḵusax̱án tin yagax̱toodláaḵ, we will succeed with love.”