Reviving roots: Tribals and their languages

An American Indian language, which was on the verge of extinction, with just five speakers left, would have gone the way of so many tribal languages of the ‘other’ India which recently lost its last speaker of the ancient ‘Bo’ language of its eastern island state, Andaman and Nicobar. Siletz, the American Indian tribal language, however, has been revived and has found many hundred new speakers due to the initiative of a few enterprising individuals and their creative use of technology. [Full story at link below]

In an interesting contrast to India, where tribes were divided artificially across states when the country was divided into linguistic administrative divisions called states, the American Indians were grouped together in artificial administrative entities or ‘reservations’.

While the Indian tribals retained the roots to their land, their historical and cultural roots were shaken as a result of the artificial division of their land across different states speaking different official languages and often following different policies.  In the case of the American Indians, their forced relocation to lands allocated by the federal government displaced them totally from their historical roots. The assault of the modern State on the tribals in either case has been insensitive to both the tribal life worlds and humankind’s history. Modern technology, perhaps, can make some amends.

See:  Siletz Language, With Few Voices, Finds Modern Way to Survive – NYTimes.com

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