Watchlist: ‘World's largest trove of Native American language resources’
By Kamiah Koch
Social media/digital journalist
In late April, a collection of Native American learning materials were unveiled at a United Nations forum.
CBS News featured the story on its YouTube channel with an interview with The Language Conservancy’s Chief Executive Officer Wilhelm Meya.
Like the endangered species list, The Language Conservancy has an endangered languages list.
“In North America and Canada and Australia, unfortunately, it’s at the forefront of the wave of extinctions that we are experiencing,” Meya says. “In our lifetime we expect perhaps up to 90 percent of world’s languages, certainly in the U.S., those languages to become extinct.”
The commonality in North America, Canada and Australia’s endangered languages is they can mostly be found in their Indigenous communities.
The Language Conservancy works to support those under-resourced communities that speak languages on the verge of extinction. Meya discussed how his nonprofit organization works to connect communities with resources that can create language textbooks and dictionaries to preserve the language, plus teacher trainings and apps that can help teach the language to new speakers.
“These are languages that don’t have the resources, the literature, the support that is needed to continue moving forward without extraordinary help,” Meya concludes. “Young people want their language, young Native American people want the apps, the cartoon, all the bells and whistles that would be available for any other language.”