This project supports Indigenous peoples to strengthen or revitalise their languages through collecting institutions and linguists supporting Indigenous people in navigating archival collections and building linguistic and other skills to use the materials discovered to develop language resources. The program has been operating regularly in the United States and Canada (as the Breath of Life Institute) with great success since the late 1990s; the most recent BoL, in Washington DC, had participants from 17 language groups and partnered with four major archives.
This project will involve a pilot to support the development of an ongoing Caring for Languages program at AIATSIS. The program will host a gathering of Indigenous community representatives to be trained in archival linguistic research. The pilot will see a small group of Community Researchers (CRs) representing four to five language groups paired with Linguistic Partners (LPs) to learn skills in practical linguistics and archival research, following which they will have the opportunity to search for relevant language materials held at AIATSIS. The pilot would involve coordination by AIATSIS to find and select CRs and LPs to take part in the pilot. Language groups with very few or no speakers would be the initial focus. AIATSIS would then identify relevant language materials held in the collection and ensure that these are digitised and able to be used in the pilot. Following participation in the project, ongoing interaction with the AIATSIS archive would be anticipated and a community of practice established by the Community Researchers and Linguistic Partners.