Endangered Languages Program
In 2008, SEN established an Endangered Languages Program (ELP) which has already been able to support a number of highly needed projects focused on teaching and preserving indigenous languages in both Russia and Northern America.
On this page you will find short descriptions of the projects selected to receive ELP grants in 2008. For more information about the projects please contact Mariyam Medovaya (maritime13 at yahoo dot com).
PROJECTS IN RUSSIA
Udege Language and Cultural School for Children
Grantee: Nonprofit Organization "Tigr" - Primorye, Russian Far East, Russia
Tigr is a nonprofit organization uniting a community of Small Nation Native People living in the village of Krasnyi Yar, Primorye, Russia. The population of the village is 664, out of which native Udege people constitute 546. This is 80% of all Udege people living in the Russian territory. The goal of Tigr is the preservation and development of the traditional ways of life of the Udege and their usage of natural resources. The majority of Udege people reside in China. In Russia, the Udege language is spoken by about 10 people in village Agzu, Primorye, and about 40 people in village Krasnyi Yar, most of them without literacy. Most of these people are over 50 years old. The Krasnyi Yar village is trying to keep the Udege traditions alive. Fifteen years ago, Udege people taught their children their native language in schools, but now there is no such practice. This project organizes lessons in the Udege language for school-age children using different forms of play and nature exploration. The intention is to cultivate the interest of young people in these educational summer activities and to popularize the Udege language not only among Udege youth but also children of other ethnicities.
Udege Education for Adults
Grantee: Irina Kanchuga, Primorye, Russian Far East, Russia
This program offers ongoing Udege language instruction for adults with the help of Udege elders and teachers of Udege language, as well as offers traditional skills workshops. The project is oriented towards middle-aged group who still remember the language but do not really speak it.
Udege Language Learning Support
Grantee: Udege Resource Center "Suneini," Primorye, Russian Far East, Russia
The goal of this project is to create conditions for learning and using the Udege language through signs, posters and educational materials. Geographically, the project will be located in Primorye, Russia (near Vladivostok). The project includes publication of educational materials, as well as organization of Udege traditional performances and a conference entitled "Udege Language: The Modern Condition." It also includes publishing a newsletter in both Udege and Russian languages and creating signs and posters in Udege for schools and public places.
Preservation of Shor Folklore Heritage
Grantee: Alexander Archabakov, Kemerovo, Southern Siberia, Russia
The Shor people live in Kemerovo Oblast in South Siberia, Russia, and according to the 2002 Census they number 12,000. The Shor language belongs to the Khakass subgroup of the Uigur-Oguz group of ancient Turkic languages. Out of these 12,000 Shor people living in the mountainous areas of Shoria and Khakassia, only 1,000 people can speak their native language fluently. These are mostly elderly people who live in far away Shor villages. The task of collecting, preserving and learning the unique heritage of the Shor people is now of the utmost importance. A large part of the Shor folklore are heroic tales which include throat-singing accompanied by a two-string musical instrument called the komus. In order to preserve a large number of unique audio recordings of this folklore, this project will convert audio tapes into digital format to preserve the quality of sound for generations to come.
Introduction of Soyot and Evenk Languages Into School Curriculum
Grantee: Department of Education, Ulan-Ude University, Buryatia, Russia
The Soyot and Evenk languages are two endangered languages of Buryatia. Soyot culture is indigenous to the mountains and taiga of Buryatia (close to Mongolia). The Soyot language and cultural tradition have been severely neglected in the last 70 years. Evenks as an ethnic group are dispersed throughout central Siberia. Their livelihoods depended for centuries on reindeer herding and hunting/gathering in the taiga. The goals of the project are to develop textbooks for kindergarten, elementary and middle school Soyot and Evenk students; to involve young indigenous leaders in the preservation of their languages; and to distribute educational materials in schools. The project also will work on developing methodology to involve family members in supporting language acquisition by children.
PROJECTS IN THE USA
Chumash Language Project
Grantee: The Sacred Earth Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA
It is believed that more than 18,000 Chumash People originally lived in the area of Central California, ranging from Malibu to Paso Robles and to the Northern Channel Islands. Today, 249 Chumash are residents of the Santa Ynez Reservation and are the only federally recognized tribal members. However, many residents of Santa Barbara claim this heritage and have records indicating their native roots. This project offers assistance to the the Tsmuwich (coastal) or Barbarenos Band of the Chumash people through actively reaching out to the younger children of this community. The project organizes story times for the youngest children who are the ones who will most likely bring forth the language into reality again. Also, the project records the sacred songs that are still sung by many, along with the English translations, and teaches these songs to the children.
Potawatomi Language Project
Grantee: Don and Dolores Perrot, Neshnab Institute for Cultural Studies, Tecumseh, OK
The Potawatomi Language is an Algonquin language, and has two major dialects, northern and southern, as well as slight regional differences. This language is an ancient one, and contains the history, cosmology, theology, sociology, and basic cultural norms, mores, sanctions, and taboos of the Potawatomi people. In short, the loss of this language will ultimately result in the loss of the culture of the Potawatomi. In order to avoid this, the Institute has developed a website and several weekly online classes. The funding from SEN has allowed the Institute to purchase specific technology needed for upgrading the website, expanding online classes, and creating interactive programming targeting the youth of the Potawatomi Nation.
Lakota Children's Language Programs
Grantee: Tusweca Tiospaye, Pine Ridge, SD
The project provides language and cultural programs to children and families of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. These programs include Lakota language classes that require parental involvement, Lakota camps where children attend language classes and are taught traditional Lakota arts and crafts, music and games in Lakota language, and a pow-wow. All these activities are designed to teach, promote, and strengthen the Lakota language and way of life among the youth in the community.