The United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages: Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Working to Preserve, Protect and Revitalize Our Languages
The International Indian Treaty Council, Chickasaw Nation, Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Global Indigenous Languages Caucus and Yuchi Language Project are pleased to announce that we will be co-hosting the “United Nations International Year of Languages: Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Working to Preserve, Protect and Revitalize Our Languages” Conference at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur Oklahoma on November 15 and 16, 2019.
Our languages are inextricably linked to our cultures and identities. Oklahoma has been identified as one of the top 10 locations around the world where Indigenous languages are most threatened. Almost half of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages – of which most are indigenous — are in danger of disappearing. In May 2011, Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, stated the reality of Indigenous languages, “Today, one Indigenous language dies every two weeks. Indigenous cultures are threatened with extinction.” With every language that disappears, the world loses a wealth of traditional knowledge.
The International Year of Indigenous Languages was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 19, 2016 to draw attention to the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.
Community members, Tribal citizens, and Tribal programs are now claiming our rights to our Indigenous languages and traditional cultures proudly speaking 24 Indigenous languages within the state of Oklahoma. This conference will bring language practitioners, tribal language program representatives, and language rights advocates from in and outside Oklahoma together to share challenges, success stories and ongoing work to restore and protect Indigenous languages and build fluency to ensure that our ways of life stay alive.
Topics for presentation and discussion will include the right to language, the impacts of historical trauma on Indigenous languages in Oklahoma, and ensuring the next generation of fluent speakers, among many other topics. Recommendations made during this conference will be brought back to our Tribes and presented to the United Nations for the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Special guest of honor at the conference will be Grand Chief Ed John of the Tl’ azt’ en Nation who serves at the Indigenous Co-Chair of UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages Steering Committee. In this context, Grand Chief John has noted the core importance of developing fluency in our communities: “There’s been a large focus on literacy, developing books and calendars and dictionaries in indigenous languages… but not as much of an effort in fluency.”
The event is FREE and, registration to attend is required as space is limited. Food will be provided for the first 180 registered participants. Register using this link: REGISTER HERE. If you would like to present, register as a presenter, and we will be in contact with you.