A Year to Honor Indigenous Languages

Emergence Magazine, Global Oneness Project, Grants Program
by Kalliopeia Foundation
A Blackfoot teacher uses a whiteboard to teach young Blackfoot students at Cuts Wood School in Browning, Montana.
Photo courtesy of Piegan Institute

We were excited to learn that the United Nations has designated 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL). At Kalliopeia, we are taking this opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of Indigenous languages and recognize the incredible work of our Indigenous grantee partners who are revitalizing languages across the country.

As we’ve learned from our grantee partners and leaders in the field, revitalizing languages gives rise to many positive social, cultural, and economic impacts among tribal communities and can be life transforming, promote individual healing, and lead to cultural revitalization through transmission of the values and knowledge embedded within them. Indigenous languages in particular are deeply rooted within a network of relationships. Held within them are unique ways of viewing the world and everything within it as interrelated, alive, and sacred.

Throughout the year we will be highlighting the work of our grantee partners as well as stories about language revitalization from our initiatives. The Global Oneness Project has created curriculum around the film Marie’s Dictionary—which documents the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and the dictionary she created—prompting students to explore what it means when a language is lost and what it takes to keep a language alive. Also, our spring issue of Emergence Magazine will be devoted to language. Stay tuned for updates on our What’s New page.

We are eager to see how IYIL 2019 will inspire our community to be a part of the movement to preserve and protect the precious languages of America’s first peoples. Please join us in this important work!

Visit the UN IYIL website to learn how you can get involved. And we invite you to explore the work of our grantee partners (below) to see what some of the country’s top language leaders are doing around language revitalization:

Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival
Akwesasne Freedom School
Colorado Plateau Foundation
The Cultural Conservancy
First Nations Development Institute: Native Language Immersion Initiative
Manidoo Ogitigaan
Moon Lodge Society
Piegan Institute
Potlatch Fund
Salish School of Spokane
Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples