Indigenous languages contain valuable information — wisdom, knowledge and unique world views.
First Peoples’ Cultural Council supports the Endangered Languages Project in partnership with the Endangered Languages Catalogue/Endangered Languages Project (ELCat/ELP) team at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and we serve on the Governance Council.
We know that Indigenous languages contribute to a sense of identity and a healthy life; they inform us about our ancestors’ traditional knowledge and important teachings. As a network for language communities across the globe, the Endangered Languages Project offers an online resource where language leaders around the world can record, access, share and research Indigenous languages.
Through the Endangered Languages Project website, users can also access information on languages and language resources.
The languages included in the project and the information displayed about them are from Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat), produced by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Eastern Michigan University, with funding provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Luce Foundation.
Questions & Answers
How did FPCC get involved with the Endangered Languages Project?
FPCC was invited to join the Endangered Languages Project because of our experience developing technologies for language revitalization, including FirstVoices.com and other innovative technologies that we have developed in partnership with First Nations communities in B.C.
What are the benefits of this project to FPCC?
FPCC benefits from participating in the Endangered Languages Project as it provides greater visibility for the languages in B.C. The project helps to forge new connections between Indigenous people in B.C. and other language communities around the globe.
It also provides us with an opportunity to learn and share best practices associated with work in language documentation, research and revitalization across the globe.
What is FPCC’s role in the project?
In July 2011, FPCC began to work with Google and a small team of language experts to share advice and feedback on the Endangered Languages Project. FPCC offered an Indigenous perspective to support the development of the website. We were a strong advocate to support in-community capacity where Indigenous experts take the lead in language revitalization. We encouraged an approach that would invite language champions from around the world to share their work and languages. Today FPCC serves on the Advisory Committee with a group of language experts from around the world.
What does FPCC hope will happen as a result of this project?
We hope that the Endangered Languages Project site will contribute to language revitalization and support the world’s language champions.
FPCC wants to see an international network of language champions using the website to share tools and ideas and to support each other in this work.
We want other organizations and governments to take notice and learn that language revitalization is important. The site educates people about the value of Indigenous knowledge, which may lead to more support for reconciliation with Indigenous groups.
Anna Belew is a linguist who works in language documentation and revitalization worldwide, with a focus on sociolinguistics and language technology. She completed her PhD at the University of Hawaiʻi in 2020. For more information, please contact Anna Belew.