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Rosaura Balancing Bowl during 2013 Folklife Festival


2nd Annual Recovering Voices Mother Tongue Festival! Februrary 21-25, 2017. Learn more


New Publication - News Release
New publication, "Language Documentation and Revitalization in Latin American Contexts", co-edited by Recovering Voices' Gabriela Pérez Báez with Chris Rogers and Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada helps preserve endangered languages in Latin America. View News Release.


Tracing Roots: A master weaver's journey to understand a spruce root hat found in a retreating glacier, featuring Delores Churchill.

October 28, 2015, 6:15pm-8:30pm, Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Join us to view a film and hear from Delores Churchill. RSVP for this event. Free & open to the public.


Ecology & Tribal Cultures of North America: Traditional Knowledge & Resource Management - Lecture by Frank Lake

Join us on Sunday August 9, 2015 at 2:00pm in the Rose Room, Room 337, NMNH for a public lecture by Frank Lake of the USDA-Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station. This lecture will address the topic of tribal Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) regarding ecology and cultural uses of ecosystems, habitats and valued species among tribes of North America. Please RSVP for this event by emailing or calling 202-633-5039 by August 7, 2015.

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 traveled to Washington, D.C. 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).

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Recovering Voices at Arctic Spring - Arctic Matters:
A Smithsonian Festival of the North 2015
May 8, 2:00pm-5:00pm & May 9, 10:00am-4:00pm

Q?rius Education Center, Ground Floor

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
@RecoverVoices  #ArcticSpring

From May 8-9, 2015, Recovering Voices participated in the National Museum of Natural History’s Arctic Spring – Arctic Matters: A Smithsonian Festival of the North. From 2pm-5pm on Friday May 8 and 10am-4pm on Saturday May 9, the Recovering Voices Arctic Voices activity and information booth was set up in the Q?rius Education Center. As a supporter of the festival, organized by the Arctic Studies Center, Recovering Voices presented information, activities and video featuring the languages from across the Arctic, many of which are threatened and severely endangered languages.

Recovering Voices showed video highlights from a community visit with a Tlingit group of basket weavers from Hoonah, Alaska. This community visit, made possible with support from Recovering Voices in conjunction with the Repatriation Office, studied historic Tlingit basketry collections in the National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Support Center and National Museum of Natural History’s Anthropology Collections, and Tlingit audio recordings at the National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives. Also featured in the video is footage from a Recovering Voices supported Athabascan Snowshoe Makers Residency program, organized and hosted by the Anchorage, Alaska Arctic Studies Center which highlights master artists of snowshoe making. 

An “Arctic Voices” memory card game was also set up for kids of any age to play. Through this game, children and adults learned about a wide range of Arctic languages, language endangerment, cultural terminology, important cultural objects and interesting facts about indigenous people across Alaska, the Canadian North, Russian Siberia, Greenland and the Nordic Region.

Handouts featuring interesting facts and additional information about Recovering Voices and languages across the Arctic were available at our booth throughout the festival.

Follow us on Twitter for live updates from the festival @RecoverVoices and follow the hashtag #ArcticSpring. Check out the schedule on the Arctic Studies Center website.






Visit the Seminars webpage.

Highlights Archive

Eduardo Rivail Riberio, Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow, NMNH
Tuesday May 26, 2015, 12:00pm, Rose Room, NMNH

Dr. Mary S. Linn, Curator of Cultural and Linguistic Revitalization, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution
Tuesday April 28, 2015, 12:00pm, Rose Room, NMNH


Dr. Scott Heyes, Assistant Professor, Cultural Heritage, University of Canberra &
Research Associate, Smithsonian’s NMNH Arctic Studies Center
Thursday April 2, 2015, 12:00pm, Kirby Room, NMNH

Dr. Anita C. Herle, Senior Curator Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Cambridge
Tuesday March 10, 2015, 12:30pm, Rose Room, NMNH


Helena Beeley, University of Oxford, Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics
Thursday February 26, 2015, 12:00noon, Rose Room, NMNH

2013 National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages

by Alexia Fawcett, 2013 Intern

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The National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is a two-week, hands-on workshop that promotes the revitalization of endangered languages. The goal of the Institute is to help Native Americans involved in language revitalization find and make use of materials in the National Anthropological Archives and the Library of Congress. During Breath of Life, activists from North American indigenous endangered language communities partner with professional linguists to navigate the available archives, locate and acquire documents, interpret writing systems, and transform archival materials into practical lessons for language learning. Through the Institute, archives and museum collections are able to support the language revitalization efforts of indigenous communities. This year’s event took place from June 9th to 21st and had 55 participants representing and researching 21 languages.

During the two weeks, class sessions help provide a background for researchers on topics like fundamental linguistics and use of archival documentation in the morning, leaving time to tour and research collections in the afternoon. The researchers found a range of useful linguistic and cultural heritage materials such as: ethnographic notes; names, stories, and pictures of tribal members from earlier generations; vocabulary and phrase lists; lyrics, translations, descriptions, and recordings of songs; geographical place names; medicinal knowledge; information about traditional dances; manuscripts of stories, paradigms, and grammars; weavings and beadwork; and videos showing traditional games. Uncovering and making connections with these materials greatly impacts the community supporting their language revitalization efforts. 

Beyond bringing linguistic and cultural collections previously unseen to communities, the researchers were able to speak with other native peoples about issues relevant to their languages and communities. Through this cultural exchange, they were also able to learn about methods of revitalization implemented by others. Perhaps most importantly, however, was gaining a sense that they were not alone in their hard work to revitalize their languages. In a follow-up survey one researcher said, “I’m inspired by [the others’] work and accomplishments and I believe that we too can awaken our language.”

Watch the video below to hear what some of those involved have to say about the Breath of Life Institute and its impact.

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. Both the 2011 and 2013 Breath of Life Institutes were supported by the National Science Foundation through grants 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 Breath of Life website and the press release for the 2013 event.

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