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Language Rights of Indigenous Peoples. LG474 lecture materials February 2009 Colin Samson Sociology Dept. University of Essex. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007, UN). Three articles pertain to language: Article 13

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Language Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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Language Rights of Indigenous Peoples

LG474 lecture materials

February 2009

Colin Samson

Sociology Dept.

University of Essex

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007, UN)

Three articles pertain to language:

Article 13

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.

Article 16

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2

Article 14

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.

3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.

US Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Alaska in 1886,

justifying the introduction of schools

to Inuit & American Indians:

They [Native Americans] must abandon tribal relations;

they must give up their superstitions;

they must forsake their savage habits and learn the arts of civilization;

they must learn to labor,

and must learn to rear their families as white people do,

and know more of their obligations to the Government and society

(Darnell & Hoem, 1996:62).

Edward Piwas, (Innu elder and hunter) Utshimassit

There will be no fish, caribou, ducks, geese at Emish [Kaupiskatish-shipis] after the mining starts.

The bear is different. The bear is like the whiteman, but he can’t live with them in the winter. He will walk around in the Emish camp. He will eat at the whiteman’s table because the Akanishau has killed the fish in the river.

The white people will keep the baby animals for pets and these animals will starve - they will not know how to hunt for themselves. Take for example the goose that was seen at Black Ash. It was lost and didn’t know its migration route.

Even the moose - he is the brother of the Akanishau. He will walk on the streets of Emish with a tie. The Akanishau has three friends - bear, moose and raven, but he can’t be friends with the squirrel because it steals from them.

The smog from the milling plant will kill the plants and animals. And it will float into our community. We will not see the smog - it will slowly kill the animals and us.

They will probably not just drill in one place - they will drill all around us. The wildlife officer will know when he can’t find any animals. He will blame us for the lack of them but he will not think about the drilling.

(Innu Nation, 1996a:38)

The white man takes such things as words and literatures for granted, as indeed he must, for nothing in his world is so common-place. On every side of him there are words by the millions, an unending succession of pamphlets and papers, letters and books, bills and bulletins, commentaries and conversations. He has diluted and multiplied the Word, and words have begun to close in upon him. He is sated and insensitive; his regard for language – for the Word itself – has diminished nearly to the point of no return. It may be that he will perish by the Word.

N. Scott Momaday

House Made of Dawn

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