Indigenous Languages. By Bianca Castro, Emma Elliott , Chika Hosoda, Jas Hundal, and Hanisha Umeria Areas covered: North America (California, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona) Mexico South America (Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia) Japan. What is an Indigenous Language?.
By Bianca Castro, Emma Elliott, Chika Hosoda, Jas Hundal, and HanishaUmeria
North America (California, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona)
South America (Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia)
A language that is native to the region and spoken by the indigenous people (original inhabitants) in the area.
Has been reduced to the status of a minority language.
May not be recognised as a national language and may have fallen out of use due to language death.
Approx 296 indigenous languages spoken (or formerly spoken) in North America (north of Mexico)
29 language families containing 269 of the languages (others are unclassified or isolates)
Nearly 100 different languages spoken in 1800 but less than 50 by 1994.
Official language of California has been English since 1986
No Californian Indian language is being learned as the primary language of the household.
Even those who know the languages rarely use them.
No new speakers = language death. When the elders die, the language will die with them.
Uto-Aztecac: 1.95 million
Hokan languages: 4000 speakers
Penutian languages: 6800 speakers
Though they’re not being learned natively, many young people around the state are trying to learn them as second languages.
Many feel the loss of language is a loss of personal history and a loss of identity.
Forming tribal language committees, school programs, evening language classes.
Audio and video-taping elders
Basic problem: no longer the main language of any household so children are not learning natively.
Controversial nature of the task of preserving the languages: many people believe it keeps the indigenous population from assimilating to ‘mainstream’ American culture.
Various authorities criticise, ridicule or just ignore many attempts to preserve languages.
Not sufficient funding or hours of school-time made available to help the language learning process.
(fluent speakers / includes non fluent or second-language speakers)
Cocopa: 150 / 400 (introductory college course at nearby college, summer youth program with language retention activities
Karuk: 10 / 60 (writing systems taught in some school programs, has many singers)
Cahuilla: 20 / 50 (individual efforts only)
Hinton, L (1994), Flutes of Fire: Essays on Californian Languages, Heyday Books, California
Nativelanguagespoken in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the United States, covering 27,673 square miles.
The Navajos have a population of over 200,000 people, making their tribe the largest Native American tribe in the United States. (178,000 speakers of Navajo recorded in the 2000 Census)
The Navajo people maintain many of their ancestors' beliefs and traditions. They strive to continue speaking their challenging Navajo language, although many Navajos also speak English.
Most fluent native speakers of Navajo are not literate in the language and for most Navajos who have had some schooling, English has been the only language promoted by the various school systems on the Navajo Nation during their lifetimes.
There were various missionary schools that were set up around North America which allowed native languages to be used as a media of instruction and religious conversation. Allowing for the development of individual writing systems for these Native Americans.
But Western European policies of expedient tolerance toward Native languages changed after the American Revolution as the new federal govt turned its attention to ‘pacifying’ Native peoples in their pursuit for their lands. As a result, Congress passed the 1819 Civilization Fund Act to support missionary schooling.
But by the late 19th Century, one of the primary tools to build the pathway for Anglo-European settlement were federal schools. Therefore although in mission schools the practice of teaching through the medium of native languages was possible and encouraged, in federal schools rules were strictly enforced to not allow the speaking of Indigenous languages.
Over the next few decades, BIA came under intense criticism for these practices, which lead to officials loosening the prohibitions against Native American languages.
One unintended consequence of the boarding school system was the start of a relationship between the Native peoples from various tribes, including the Navajo, who grew up together in these schools and who in the context of the 1960s American Indian and civil rights movements, pushed for tribal sovereignity and educational reform.
AllNative American languages are endangered, as Nativechildrenhavebecomeincreasingly more socialised in English.
The causes of this are complex and theconsequencessevere, becauseunlikeotherspeechcommunitiestheydon’thavetheexternalsource of speakerstoreplenishtheirnumbers.
“The loss of theindigenouslanguageis terminal: languagedeath” WARNER 1999:72
Thereforedue this predicament, languagerevitalizationis a significantgoal in Native American communitiesthroughoutthe USA
Schoolingamongothermediumsthereforeremains a crucial areafortheexercise of tribal sovereignity and self-determination.
K. Potowski ‘Language Diveristy in the USA’ 2010
South America is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world.
There are approximately 350 living languages
Over 100 languages are unclassified by the governments of South America
South America encompasses 43% of the world’s 249 independent linguistic stock
The majority of indigenous languages in South America are endangered
Considered an official language but not regulated (as Spanish is)
35% of the population speak a form of Quechua
Also spoken in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina by approximately 8 million people
Southern Quechua is the most widely spoken indigenous language with 6 – 7 million speakers
There are as many as 40 Quechuan languages spoken natively
Only very recently have the speakers of Quechua (who vary in accordance with the language) developed some form of common sense of political identity
Highland Aymara and Quechua make up the majority of Bolivia’s indigenous people and the highland Bolivian population
The Popular Participation Law (1994) meant that more Quechua people are becoming more active in local and national politics
Advances have been made (by & for indigenous people) to include constitutional recognition, popular participation, bilingual education and greater parliamentary representation
Bolivia now has a Constituent Assembly rather than a traditional parliament which includes a large number of indigenous representatives
The Bolivian National Education Reform (1994) aims for an introduction of all 30 of Bolivia’s indigenous languages including Spanish as subjects and sources in all Bolivian schools
Guaraní is an official language (since 1992) in Paraguay and is spoken by approximately 90% of the population
Spoken by approximately 4.6 million people in Paraguay (small communities of speakers in Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina)
A lot of Spanish vocabulary diffused into Guaraní
Spanish is used for formal and official situations and Guaraní in private and informal settings
Guaraní is part of the Tupí-Guaraní language family
Guaraní was considered a language spoken by only lower class citizens and people from the country
Many of Paraguay’s indigenous population do not have the legal title to their traditional territories; the state does not protect them against the actions of corporate landowners or other non-indigenous ranchers and farmers
There is no outright discrimination against indigenous people in Paraguayan legislation but access to health services and education is a major problem
Indigenous people suffer the highest infant mortality rate in the country and have the highest rate of tuberculosis and malaria
In 1992 an educational reform made it compulsory for classes to be taught in both Guaraní and Spanish
Constitution of 1992 recognised: Paraguay as a ‘pluri-cultural’ and ‘bilingual’ nation; the state’s duty to protect and provide legal title to indigenous communal lands; and acknowledged the validity of customary law
The 1992 constitution did not specify indigenous rights in terms of health and education
Governments have, in general, failed to transform official discourses of multiculturalism into practical reforms.
Aymara has around 2.2 million speakers spread across Bolivia and Peru (where it is classified as an official language), Chile and Argentina
Official language in Peru is Spanish and in the areas in which they are dominant, Aymara, Quechua and others
They had no written language, but under the influence of the Spanish adopted the Latin alphabet.
Many different spelling systems have been devised but in 1985 the Peruvian government introduced a new spelling system known as the Aymara Official alphabet
Many Aymara live in poverty in rural areas
The Aymara faced great hardships under the Spanish invasion during the 1500s; millions died working as labourers in the mines
Many Aymara are subsistence farmers in the high altitude environment where they live; limits the types of crops grown
The Aymara have also recently entered the political world in Bolivia and have elected senators and representatives to the Bolivian congress
Peruvian government recently create a multicultural state institution (InstitutoNacional de Desarrollo de los Pueblos Andinos, Amazónicas y Afro-Peruanos (INDEPA) which includes Aymara and yechua representatives; however it has not made any legislative or constitutional changes
Land rights are a major issue and demand if indigenous organisations in Peru but no revisions have been made to the policy of removal of the inalienability and indivisibility of indigenous communal lands
Hornberger, Nancy H. Language policy, language education, language rights: Indigenous, immigrant, and international perspectives (1998)
Japan’s nation building and Ainu
-Meiji Restoration 1868
Meiji government was established with central power.
-Colonial policy towards Ainu
---Hokkaido Development Policy.
increased control on land by state: Ainu lost
their traditional land rights.
---massive immigration of Japanese people into
-JP government enforced assimilation policy.
--Ainu culture including religion, life style,
and language are disrupted.
--Ainu language became nearly extinct.
Present recognition of Ainu
Chiisana Ainu Kyousitsu <http://www2.plala.or.jp/mosir/aynu.html>
DeChicchis, Joseph. 1995. “The Current State of the Ainu Language.” MutilingualJapan. Ed. Maher, John C and Yahiro Kyoko. Clevedon: Mutilingual Matter
Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture. <http://www.frpac.or.jp/>
Gottlieb, Nanette. 2005. Language and Society in Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ogawa, Masahito. 1993. “The Hokkaido Former Aborigines Protection Act and Assimilatory Education.” Indigenous Minorities and Education. Ed. Loos, Noel and Osanai Takeshi. Otowa: Sanyusha Publishing.