In some areas of Alaska many elders and even middle-aged community members grew up with Yup’ik as their first language. The resulting language gap for these individuals has created problems when they are involved in court hearings. To combat these problems, the Alaska Institute for Justice is heading up an effort to train Yup’ik interpreters specifically to work in courts, medical facilities, and other institutions. The experts involved with this training are working to create a Yup’ik legal glossary with an emphasis on words that describe problems such as: sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parental neglect and abuse.
“Our goal is to make sure that all Alaskans have access to the services that they need regardless of their ability to speak English,” said Robin Bronen, executive director of the justice institute.
Full article available here.
NPR has “For Rare Languages, Social Media Provide New Hope” here.
The creators and contributors of Ojibwe.net — a website that seeks to preserve Anishinaabemowin, an endangered Native American language from Michigan — use Facebook in a similar manner.
Ojibwe.net contributor Margaret Noodin is an assistant professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The language has 8,000-10,000 speakers, she says. But most of the native speakers are over 70 years old, placing the language under threat.
“That’s the most dangerous thing. There are very few young kids that are growing up in a fluent environment,” Noodin says.
Bilingual road signs, to be paid for by the Fond du Lac Tribe, have been granted preliminary approval by St. Louis County. The signs will be posted on county roads within the reservation. More here.
Here, from Alaska Indigenous Blog. Links to several news outlets on this story are on the blog.
Every Alaska Native language will now be recognized as official languages of the State of Alaska in addition to English. The lone precedent is Hawai’i, which recognizes Hawai’ian as official in addition to English via constitutional convention in 1987. Many, many people worked very hard to get this bill through the 28th Alaska State Legislature, which will adjourn today or very early tomorrow morning.