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Emerging from out of the Margins

Essays on Haida Language, Culture, and History


Fredericke White

This book provides an insider view of Haida language, history, and culture, and offers a perspective on Haida culture that comes not only from external research but also from intimate knowledge and experiences the author has had as a Haida Nation citizen. The book’s focus on language – past, present, and future – allows insight into the Haida language documentation and revitalization process that will benefit other cultures currently addressing similar issues with their language. Being able to write and discuss Haida culture as an insider affords the opportunity to instantiate the role of a First Nations scholar including the intricacies involved in having a voice about one’s own culture and history. A First Nations person publishing a book about his or her own culture is a rare opportunity. However, such publications will become more common as other indigenous scholars and writers emerge from other margins around the world.
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7. Rethinking Native American Language Revitalization


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Rethinking Native American Language Revitalization

As many linguists such as Elizabeth Brandt (1988), Paul Kroskrity (2009), William Leap (1988) continue to work with and analyze First Nations/ Native American languages, the consensus opinion usually direly predicts the loss of daily use for almost all of the extant indigenous languages. First Nations is currently the term that is applied to the original inhabitants of Canada, hence, they are literally the First Nations. For the purposes of this chapter, I begin with the terms First Nations/Native American but then to simplify, I incorporate Native American since the terms and content are relevant and salient to both countries. Currently Native American communities with linguists and other professionals expend tremendous efforts at renewing, revitalizing, and restoring their languages to everyday use. The model upon which much Native American language renewal research is based, second language acquisition or second language learning (henceforth-SLA/L), at first seemingly provides relevant correspondence with the ensuing attributes, but I will argue that the SLA/L models of characteristics do not apply to Native American language acquisition/learning circumstances.

Reversing language shift and language loss are crucial issues in many Native American communities. In Canada, First Nations communities currently experience critical shift and loss. The 1991 census in Canada reports disturbingly low numbers of fluent ancestral language speakers. Historically, cultural opposition, enforced assimilation, government exploitation, and missionization succeeded in reducing the use of many Native American languages. These efforts not only strove to...

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