Please help us save a California Indian language!
As we approach the winter solstice, we want to share our gratitude for the support that has helped our organization for nearly 25 years, and we hope to have your continued support.
There are many heroes in the California Indian world working diligently to save and strengthen their languages, such as Marie Wilcox, the powerful elder who loves her language so much the she created her own dictionary so her language will not perish. Marie has also worked through the Advocates’ Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program to teach four relatives to speak the Wukchumni language, which had disappeared from the home environment before they were born.
Marie's story is not that different from many stories of California Indians today. Our mission is to help people like Marie's family to take their culture's future into their own hands and secure their language's survival for future generations. We have trained and given support to over 100 Master-Apprentice teams, each consisting of an elder speaker and a motivated younger member of the tribe, teaching them special methods for teaching and learning their endangered languages. We currently have funding for twelve teams, but we have five more teams anxiously waiting right now for that training and support. We need to raise $50,000, which will pay for one year’s support for those five teams.
California is home to over 100 Indian languages, and all of them are endangered, most with only a few speakers left. In the 25 years since the Advocates was established, so much has been achieved through our programs. Over forty languages have been sustained, children are being born and raised in their heritage languages as first language speakers, and tribal communities throughout the state are making a choice to perpetuate their languages, sustaining them for future generations.
Our Master Apprentice Program forms the core of our programming. Through the dedication of these teams, the foundational work of language revitalization happens through an apprenticeship, and a partnership, of working together toward language survival. These team members go on to form language programs in their communities and are examples of the power of cultural revival, and healing that can be achieved through language.
(The Advocates provide other services to California Indian community members- Language is Life Conference, Breath of Life Workshop, teaching resource materials, Seeds of Language mini-grants, and language immersion trainings. To see more, go to our website, www.aicls.org.)