University of Texas-Arlington helps Native Americans learn to save own languages
This is an exciting collaborative project that pairs experts from the University of Texas–Arlington and the University of Oklahoma, where linguists mentor American Indians working on tribal language preservation.
“Hutke Fields pictures a time when younger generations of Natchez people use his tribe’s native tongue at ceremonies, while sharing oral histories and during everyday talk at home.
But Field’s vision is complicated by the fact that only six people, out of about 10,000 members of the Natchez tribe in Oklahoma, still speak the language.
“We’ll lose it if we don’t use it,” said Fields, who received assistance last year during a workshop dedicated to helping American Indian communities in Oklahoma to bring back disappearing languages.
Fields is a participant in the Breath of Life project – a joint effort by experts from the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Oklahoma – in which linguists mentor American Indians so they can better recover endangered languages.
It is modeled after a project at the University of California, Berkeley.
“We are growing field linguists,” said Colleen Fitzgerald, associate professor and chairwoman of UT Arlington’s Linguistics Department. “We are transferring knowledge to community members so they can teach their own languages.” MORE… See the news release from UT-Arlington here!