For people who have a passion for Native American languages or cultures, there is an institute dedicated to protecting these languages.

The Institute on Collaborative Language Research is a language-training institute focused on achieving indigenous language documentation, preservation, maintenance and revival of languages, CoLang director Colleen Fitzgerald said.

“There’s two sides. One is getting as much of the language as you can, while you are still able to, and then the other one is taking that knowledge about the language and putting it back into the community to teach those languages and help communities keep the language going,” Fitzgerald said.

The two parts of the institute are the workshops, which are intensive workshops on practices, principals and models of language documentation and revitalization from June 16 to 27 and a field methods course from June 30 to July 25 that will have participants working with speakers of select indigenous languages applying hands-on techniques in language documentation.

CoLang offers this opportunity to students, practicing linguists and indigenous community members.

Devin Hornick, CoLang volunteer and linguistics senior, said he will be volunteering for general needs and helping out with the database for documenting languages.

Hornick said his whole introduction into languages was through Indo-European languages. He likes to see how languages change over time and how modern languages come to be.

“People have to realize that languages can’t survive without people pluming life into it, and events like this really bring that to their attention,” he said. “Not only that there is a need for studying and documenting languages but that it can happen to any language. Any language can go extinct, any language can become endangered.”

Registration for the workshops and the field methods course have closed, but anyone can go the public events located in the Lone Star Theatre.

The public events include a free screening of Star Wars: A New Hope movie dubbed in the Navajo language 7 p.m. Wednesday. There will be another film screening 7 p.m. June 25, but the film selection has not been confirmed yet.

There will also be a presentation that will focus on Native Language projects from communities in the U.S. and Canada from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays. The speakers will be Lorna Williams, Lil’wat First Nation/University of Victoria and First People’s Cultural Council chairwoman, Joshua Hinson, Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program director, and Brent Henderson from the University of Florida.

At CoLang’s first public event, Williams spoke about the activities indigenous language communities in British Colombia conduct to fight for their languages. She also spoke about the legacy and education of colonization, reconnecting generations and communities with their native languages and how to enable collaborations between education and native languages.

“We have to help each other. It’s a mantra I’ve been using,” Williams said. “We cannot do the work of keeping our languages alive, we can’t do it by ourselves on either side of the fence and it’s only by really facing each other, walking side by side that we are able to do this work.”


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