th though 15th, at the Chase M. Petersen Heritage Center, University of Utah campus. "Native American languages are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. It's a crisis of enormous proportions," says Campbell. "All sorts of knowledge, from moral and spiritual values, and cultural identity, as well as scientific knowledge, are only known and accessed though native languages. If we lose the language this knowledge is lost to humanity forever. It"s an irretrievable loss."" /> th though 15th, at the Chase M. Petersen Heritage Center, University of Utah campus. "Native American languages are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. It's a crisis of enormous proportions," says Campbell. "All sorts of knowledge, from moral and spiritual values, and cultural identity, as well as scientific knowledge, are only known and accessed though native languages. If we lose the language this knowledge is lost to humanity forever. It"s an irretrievable loss."" /> U OF U CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON DOCUMENTATION & REVITALIZATION OF ENDANERED LANGUAGES AND CULTURES OF NATIVE AMERICA – UNews Archive

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U OF U CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON DOCUMENTATION & REVITALIZATION OF ENDANERED LANGUAGES AND CULTURES OF NATIVE AMERICA


April. 12, 2007 – In North America there are only one-hundred-fifty-five native languages still in use. However, only twenty of those languages are actively being learned by children, according to Lyle Campbell, Director of the Center for American Indian Languages (CAIL), at the University of Utah. This fact underscores the importance of the upcoming “Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America” to be held this Friday, April 13th though 15th, at the Chase M. Petersen Heritage Center, University of Utah campus. “Native American languages are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. It’s a crisis of enormous proportions,” says Campbell. “All sorts of knowledge, from moral and spiritual values, and cultural identity, as well as scientific knowledge, are only known and accessed though native languages. If we lose the language this knowledge is lost to humanity forever. It”s an irretrievable loss.”

The conference will focus on the documentation and revitalization of Native American languages. The goal of documentation is to create materials, i.e. dictionaries, grammars, and other resources for revitalization, which in turn means having communities use the resources for language programs and learning, for both children and adults, to keep the languages alive and strong. “If these languages are lost, the literature and traditions, all the beauty and knowledge of the cultures will be lost.. If lost, all humanity is diminished,” adds Campbell.

Keynote speakers for the conference are Marianne Mithun, University of California, Santa Barbara, an expert on the languages of native North America, and Christine Sims, (Acoma Pueblo) University of New Mexico, who will talk about “Challenges in Native Language Revitalization Efforts.” Native language experts from as far away as Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and Mexico, will present language research. Many languages and cultures will be represented including Cherokee, Arapaho, Karapana, Navajo, Mayan, Amazonian, and Inupiaq Eskimo. Shoshone Elder, speaker, and linguist, Beverly Crum, of the Duck Valley reservation in Nevada, will lead a forum discussion.

In addition, University of Utah students will host Indian students visiting from the Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico. Members of the Intertribal Student Association, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, will sponsor a tour, reception, and dinner for visiting students. Four U of U Navajo language students will be featured at the conference. Each student will tell a story in Navajo. Anthony Shirley, the American Indian Program Coordinator, teaches the class. He says, “I definitely think that with the national bill signed last year by President Bush for restoration of languages that it is the responsibility of every institution of higher education, as well as communities, to preserve and teach native languages.”

The conference is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution (Department of Anthropology of the Museum of Natural History), College of Humanities, University of Utah, and CAIL (Center for American Indian Languages, University of Utah). For more information please visit www.cail.utah.edu.