Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Assessing the Vitality of Arctic Indigenous Languages - Research Development Workshops (Award# 1224305)

PI: Stotts, Jim (
Phone: (907) 563.6917 
Institute/Department: Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)-Alaska,  
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Anna Kerttula (
Discipline(s): | Education and Outreach |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Arctic is a locus of change. Researchers, governments and indigenous communities are coming together to seek evidence-based responses to ongoing environmental, cultural, social, political and economic changes. Language vitality is integrally intertwined with all aspects of changing Arctic societies. The Assessing the Vitality of Arctic Indigenous Languages research development workshops establish a platform for an indigenous-led, Arctic state-supported, and academically anchored circumpolar collaboration seeking to understand and respond to communities? goals for the future of their languages. The workshops provide an opportunity for indigenous peoples, academics, policy makers and practitioners to share what they are already doing in Arctic language assessment and promotion. Stakeholders will discuss needs, opportunities and parameters for working together. The specific workshop objectives are to: 1. Establish a research network for the assessment of the vitality of Arctic indigenous languages, including representatives of Arctic states, indigenous peoples' organizations, academic researchers, language policy-makers, programmers and activists. 2. Develop a shared, indigenous-driven and academically grounded method (or methods) for research into the vitality of Arctic indigenous languages, with mechanisms and protocols for inter-agency and international collaboration. 3. Plan for the dissemination of reliable and comparable data about the status of all Arctic languages in a centralized, accessible format; facilitate local, regional, and international sharing of best practices in addressing Arctic indigenous language vitality. The workshops will bridge academic and indigenous discourses and methodologies, establishing an acceptable research methodology for assessing indigenous language vitality. Development of shared frameworks and methodologies will lay the foundation for collection and dissemination of comparable pan-Arctic data, needed for further comparisons, analysis, and ultimately better understandings of how communities' goals (e.g. for balanced bilingualism) may best be achieved. Establishing indigenously driven research collaborations between Arctic indigenous groups and academic researchers will build the capacity of both to develop and implement research projects which address the needs of indigenous communities. Circumpolar collaboration under the auspices of the Arctic Council and led by the Inuit Circumpolar Council provides insight into how such international bodies may contribute to language planning for indigenous languages.

Logistics Summary:
These meetings are part of ongoing efforts to develop a community of scholars, community members, language activists, policy-makers and language programmers committed to work together to understand and enhance language vitality in the Arctic. The participants are already engaged in indigenous language assessment and promotion. Through participation in this meeting they will lay the groundwork to work collaboratively to foster indigenous community control of language issues. They will develop an appropriate methodology for subsequent collection of comparable, meaningful data necessary for evidence-based policy and program development. Finally, the team will establish strategies for effective distribution and dissemination of the scholarship that derives from this group. The workshop will be organized by the Inuit Circumpolar Council, in Ottawa 18-20 June 2012 for approximately 23 indigenous representatives, linguists, and government policymakers. No fieldwork is conducted.

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