As a part of the course that I’m currently teaching in the indigenous research space, I came across information stating that 2019 is the year that the U.N. or United Nations decided to mark as the year of celebrating Indigenous languages. (Please visit http://www.en.iyil2019.org for further information)
What was concerning for me was that I hadn’t heard of or had seen this at all advertised in our local or national media i.e. print form, TV, radio or even on social media from the beginning of the year or perhaps I may have missed it? but have you?
That’s why I decided to blog about it to bring attention to such an important emphasis that needs to made for indigenous languages that carry unique world views and cultural concepts/principles and practices that need to be carried on for future generations to learn about.
If you check out the website above indigenous languages are becoming endangered for many cultures as colonial or host languages have taken precedence as the preferred languages of educational institutions and past racist policies barred indigenous peoples from even speaking their languages in schools.
You only have to look at New Zealand’s, Samoa’s and other Pacific nation’s racist colonial histories to see the abysmal experiences that indigenous peoples had in some generations losing their indigenous languages especially if indigenous parents have moved for a host country that doesn’t have opportunities to teach children their indigenous languages or they don’t have access to those resources (quite apart from choosing not to teach them).
For me in the space that I work in at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, it has been so reassuring to see the renaissance of many Maori youth now becoming bilingual but especially in learning their indigenous language throughout their education.
I’m thankful for my parents encouraging us at home and putting us in a church and family settings where I could regularly hear Samoan spoken, see it written and learn to appreciate the principles, protocols, and worldviews that I otherwise would have not known about had we been fully immersed into pakeha (European) culture.
The question for us now is about how are we ensuring that the next generation of our own families are being encouraged to learn about, speak, read, to be informed about our indigenous languages and cultural principles? Can our children speak, read, learn about our indigenous languages now or in the future? what things are we putting in place so that our next generation are able to access that knowledge and language/s. Definitely something to think about…