NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on best practices, insights on Indigenous language revitalization

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on best practices, insights on Indigenous language revitalization

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Talk is second in a series of Native language lectures

January 24, 2020


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a language lecture next week that is part of a new series of talks aimed at sharing teaching techniques and connecting language professionals working to perpetuate Native languages.

The lecture, Best Practices and Insights on Indigenous Language Revitalization in Northwestern North America, will be given by author Gulkiihlgad, Marianne Ignace, professor of Linguistics and First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University and director of the school’s First Nations Languages Program and Research Centre.

The lecture is scheduled 5 pm, Thursday, Jan. 30, at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lectures will be videotaped and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel. Presenters will also be interviewed for a podcast which will be posted after the lectures.

Dr. Ignace has worked with Indigenous language groups on documenting and revitalizing languages, including her home language Secwepemctsin, and Xaad Kil (Haida), the language she was adopted into many years ago. In her presentation, she will discuss the challenges of language revitalization in Indigenous languages that have a very small number of first language speakers left, but also what innovative and enterprising ways adult learners and emerging speakers have created and are creating in order to meet the challenge of fostering highly proficient new speakers.

“We recognize this challenge as a crucial requirement for revitalizing, teaching and learning Indigenous languages from infancy, through the K-12 education system and among adults,” Ignace wrote.

Ignace’s publications include The Curtain Within: Haida Social and Symbolic Discourse (1989), a practical grammar of Ts’msyen Sm’algyax co-authored with Margaret Anderson (2008), and books on Indigenous language planning and curriculum development for First Nations Education Steering Committee (1998, 2016 – Based on many years of studies in Secwepemc ethnobotany and ethnoecology, she edited and wrote, with Nancy Turner and Sandra Peacock, Secwepemc People and Plants: Research Papers on Shuswap Ethnobotany (2016), and, with Ron Ignace wrote (2017) Secwepemc People, Land and Laws – Yeri7 re Stsq̓ey̓s-kucw, a prize-winning epic journey through 10,000 years of Secwepemc history. A resident of the Skeetchestn community in the Secwepemc Nation, she currently teaches and coordinates courses in Indigenous languages in Kamloops, Haida Gwaii and Yukon, and directs a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada partnership grant (2013-2020) focused on Indigenous language documentation and revitalization, which won the prestigious 2019 SSHRC Impact Award. With Ron Ignace she was awarded the 2019 Governor General‘s Innovation Award on generating dialogue between Indigenous knowledges and western sciences. She is currently completing two annotated and illustrated volumes of narratives in Xaad Kil (Haida — with Lawrence Bell) and Secwepemctsin (Shuswap — with Ron Ignace), which show the intricate complexities of language, thought, environmental knowledge and their reflection of the Indigenous laws of human conduct.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

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