Language

Learn how building a traditional Sugpiaq kayak can help maintain and invigorate a language, a culture, and a way of knowing the land and ocean. When Sugpiaq children add their knowledge and energy to the work of elders, scholars, hunters, fishermen, and boat builders in one of the most remote areas of Kodiak Island, the result is a sense of optimism and strength. Traditional knowledge and scientific ways of knowing join forces to create layers of understanding and belonging.

From Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself), Keep Talking follows four Alaska Native women learning to teach their critically endangered language. Only 41 fluent Elders still speak Kodiak Alutiiq due to brutal assimilation policies at U.S. government run Indian boarding schools. The grit and resilience of these women helps them overcome historical trauma, politics and personal demons as they evolve into #languagewarriors.

In 2012, a film that Randy Vasquez directed and I produced, called The Thick Dark Fog, was broadcast nationwide on PBS. The film tells the story of Lakota elder Walter Littlemoon’s journey of healing from his American Indian boarding school experiences. During the production of the film, we spoke to many Native elders who had gone to boarding school.

Injunuity 2 is a half-hour documentary made up of nine short films using a mix of animation, music, and real Native voices. Together, the pieces create a thought-provoking collage of reflections on modern America from a contemporary Native perspective.

Blend traditional Oneida storytelling with modern media, providing a window to a world that no longer exists. A personal account written by the elders of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin during the early 1930s as it portrays the land grab policies carried out by government agents.

In 1918, not yet citizens of the United States, Choctaw members of the American Expeditionary Forces were asked to use their Native language as a powerful tool against the German Forces in World War I--setting a precedent for code talking as an effective military weapon and establishing them as America's original code talkers.

Lakota youth in particular are eager to re-appropriate the language and its embedded concepts of place, ethics, action and purpose--on their own terms, sometimes in ways that clash with others' expectations or the status quo.

When linguistic and anthropologist John Peabody Harrington died in 1961 at the age of 77, few understood the significance of his work. Harrington was an eccentric, paranoid, and obsessively driven anthropologist whose life became dedicated to preserving Native America's dying languages. Reclusive and secretive, he worked tirelessly 18-hour days crisscrossing the American West recording the last speakers of America's indigenous languages.

Growing Native will be a seven-part series focusing on reclaiming traditional knowledge and food ways to address critical issues of health and wellness, the environment and human rights.

Broken by the legacy of colonialism, Lakota Tribes struggle for restoration, healing and rebuilding. This film is a conversation between the elder and younger generations about reclaiming their stories and culture. By looking at traditional family structure, spirituality, language and values, they hope to build a vision for the future.

 
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