As part of the Recovering Voices mission, we aim to make the Smithsonian’s collections more accessible and create opportunities for dialogue about language and knowledge revitalization. We host conferences, workshops and symposia on a variety of topics, in collaboration with our partners within the Smithsonian and around the world.
National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages 2017
The 2017 National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Language workshop is being held in Washington, D.C., from May 29 thru June 9, 2017. This year's National Breath of Life hosts 28 Community Researchers from 17 different Native American Language groups, bringing the total number of Native American communities served through the National BoL since 2011 to 74. For the fourth time, the National Breath of Life has been primarily funded by a National Science Foundation – Documenting Endangered Languages program grant, award # 602755.
During the National BoL, Community Researchers will be offered courses in linguistics, archives-based research and language revitalization by senior linguists, experienced archivists and revitalization practitioners. The Community Researchers will be paired up with dedicated, volunteer linguists for one-on-one support throughout their coursework and during hands-on archives-based research sessions. They will be consulting thousands of manuscripts pages from NMNH's National Anthropological Archives.
Visit the Community Researchers & Linguistic Partners page to learn more: http://nationalbreathoflife.org/apply/ Contact the Myaamia Center at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages 2015
The 2015 Breath of Life Institute on Indigenous Languages took place in Washington, D.C. from June 1-12. This year, Breath of Life was organized by the Myaamia Center at University of Miami and Recovering Voices, Smithsonian Institution. The Myaamia Center, led by Director Daryl Baldwin, is a tribal initiative located within an academic environment to advance the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s language and cultural revitalization efforts. From June 1-12, over 40 participants will travel to Washington, DC to access archival documentation on their own native languages and cultures at the National Anthropological Archive (NAA), Library of Congress (LOC), the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. This initiative is funded largely by the Documenting Endangered Languages award, a joint effort between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Thanks to Ivy Drexel, Bobbie Burke and Karen Baldwin for planning this successful event.
Visit the Recovering Voices Blog for stories about this year's events and participants!
Patterns of Native Health and Wellbeing: An Intercultural Symposium
This symposium is hosted by the Smithsonian's Native Health and Culture Workgroup from April 8-10, 2015 at Western Carolina University, NC. Registration is open to the public, but you must register in advance, here. Travel assistance and accomodations are not provided. More information is available at the Symposium Website.
National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages 2013
The National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is a two-week hands-on workshop that promotes the revitalization of endangered languages. Native American language learners are paired with professional linguists who mentor them in fundamental linguistics and the use of archival documentation in the National Anthropological Archives, the collections of the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Library of Congress.
During Breath of Life, these teams of activists from North American indigenous endangered language communities and linguists navigate Smithsonian and Library of Congress archives and collections, locate and acquire documents, interpret writing systems, and transform archival materials into practical lessons for language learning. Through the Institute, archives and museum collections support the language revitalization efforts of indigenous communities. The National Breath of Life Institute was based on the model developed for California languages in the early 1990’s by the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (AICLS) in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley.
In June of 2013, the Institute hosted 55 participants representing and researching 21 languages from the US and Canada.
The Breath of Life Institute was supported by the National Science Foundation through a grant to the Endangered Language Fund (ELF). Partners included the National Museum of Natural History, The National Museum of the American Indian, the Library of Congress and Yale University. For more information visit the 2013 Breath of Life website.
On July 31- August 2, 2012, Cultural Survival and the Recovering Voices Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution held a conference on radio programming in Indigenous languages. “Our Voices on the Air: Reaching New Audiences Through Indigenous Radio” involved three Smithsonian partners - the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH).This project was supported with internal Smithsonian funds from the Consortium for World Cultures and the Consortium for Understanding the American Experience.
The radio is an ideal tool for preserving and revitalizing languages. In many Indigenous communities around the world, people use a radio daily. The conference brought together Indigenous radio producers from Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and the United States to share resources and knowledge. Professionals in the media also brought their expertise to the discussion. Through speakers, workshops and conversations, radio producers were able to develop new materials for their community radio programming. Materials from the conference will be used to develop a national radio series that will be broadcast to a wide community and public radio audience.
For more information visit the Our Voices On the Air website.
A three-day workshop entitled After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge was held January 19-21, 2012 at the National Museum of Natural History. The workshop brought together twenty-eight participants from diverse anthropological fields, indigenous communities, collecting institutions and an array of Smithsonian units to document and discuss sets of best practices and case studies of digital repatriation in order to theorize the broad impacts of such processes in relation to: linguistic revitalization of endangered languages, culturalrevitalization of traditional practices and the creation of new knowledge stemming from the return of digitized material culture. This extremely productive workshop resulted in a new website which brings together diverse initiatives that use digital resources to connect communities to collections, and have resulted in several important publications.
National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages 2011
The inaugural National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages was held in June of 2011, with support from the National Science Foundation through a grant to the Endangered Language Fund (ELF). The Institute hosts about 60 community language activists and linguists for two weeks, providing training and mentorship in fundamental linguistics and the use of archival documentation for language revitalization.