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2017 Conference - Multilingualism and Indigenous-Language Education Abstract
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The combined forces of colonization and globalization have positioned virtually all Indigenous languages as endangered. At the same time, throughout the world, Indigenous peoples are engaged in vital movements to assert Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and speaking through innovative language practices. In some cases this entails new forms of translanguaging (García, 2009)—hybrid language practices that make use of the multiplicity of resources within individual and communal linguistic repertoires. In other cases reclamation entails “revitalization immersion” (McIvor & McCarty, 2017), a holistic language education approach designed to promote learners’ linguistic and academic development alongside their ethnic identity and the empowerment and well being of their communities. In yet other cases, reclamation involves the appropriation of unique features of dominant languages to construct a shared sense of ethnic identity. In all cases. this work up-ends hegemonic expectations of Indigenous languages as “failing” (Meek, 2011) and trending toward extinction (Leonard, 2008, 2011).

The papers in this session critically examine these innovative language practices and forms across a range of linguistic ecologies, from English features in Native North American communities, to English-lexified contact languages in Australia, to the reclamation of Indigenous languages once deemed “extinct,” to master-apprentice efforts for Indigenous languages in Canada and Mexico. Together, the papers illuminate the challenges and possibilities of intersecting Indigenous and dominant language practices and forms, and how Indigenous language strengthening becomes integral to community members’ daily lives. Tacit and overt language policies are examined, and methodologies for understanding Indigenous-language variation are critically analyzed.

The session begins with a brief introduction, followed by five 20-minute paper presentations, each with an additional 5 minutes for questions and discussion. A concluding discussion period will provide a summary and synthesis by the co-chairs, and engage the audience in dialogue with panelists and co-chairs around the session themes.

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