I went the the Anishinaabemowin-teg conference in Sault Saint Marie a few weeks ago and was encouraged by all the work that was being done on Language revitalization involving technology and the internet. Communities are really using these technologies I think in a positive way that will be of benefit to preserving and promoting heritage language use.
One of the things I took away from this conference was the importance of maintaining the cultural components when teaching the language. As one of the elders and fluent speakers said, “Its important to teach the language using the culture, and to teach through doing things so that these activities and the language used to describe them remain linked.” One of the many talks I went to showed how communities are working with language teachers to document traditional activities like ice fishing and making baskets and recording them being done in the language. These then become resources that teach the language through action and doing things which is an important way to learn and more important remember. This is especially true for kids, but also for adults.
What I saw and heard going on at this conference has helped me to shape some possible directions for my website and how I can make it a better resource for language learners. I was also at a session that was all in Anishinaabemwoin. It was difficult for me to keep up at times and it reminded me that I still have a lot to learn. In terms of my project I am posting added content. I now have almost 25 hours of audio recordings to sort through, some videos and soon many photos to post and categorize. However I am going to concentrate on just a few of them for the debut of my site. I have the summer to clean up and add the rest.
I have also been discussing with community members different approaches in terms of access and traditional knowledge licenses. My original platform had these built in and I am working on how to incorporate them into my site. I have also put the call out to the community to see if anyone has photos, videos or stories they would like to share. I am getting some positive responses and hopefully more materials to include. My goal is to have this be a community based project where the community has both control of and ownership off the direction and scope of the site.
Once I have this content up and looking good I feel confident that it will be something that the community will want to use and be part of. I am also looking into how the other efforts I saw at this conference could somehow be integrated together or linked in some way to create connections between communities that are engaged in language and cultural revitalization. Perhaps a web portal with an interactive map that links communities and their digital spaces together. I think this would be a great future project for someone.