The Role of Language in Cultural Programming

Language holds the key to cultural, scientific, and historical knowledge about the world we live in; and each time a language is lost, an entire encyclopedia of knowledge goes with it. Therefore, it is extremely important that language can be protected and utilized at every opportunity possible with youth, especially the youngest members, to ensure our languages get passed on to future generations. Factors that influence the usage and relevancy of a language include the overall number of speakers, the amount of parental involvement in language programming, and the language’s adaption to new domains, or environments where the language is spoken (schools, businesses, restaurants, community events, social media/technology etc.). The more that youth and their families are exposed to the language and use it, the higher likelihood it has for members to speak on a regular basis and pass it on.

As we all know, language and culture are inextricably connected! Think about ways you can highlight your culture(s) and relevant programming using language, such as the poster shown here that expresses the phrase “Healthy and Well” in Navajo, Zuni, and Ojibwa among others.

Have you thought about other ways to expose youth at your Club to traditional language? In what ways do you already incorporate language into Club programming? If you are interested in starting up a language program, incorporating language into existing programming, or enhancing what your Club already has, refer here to the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Language Grantee Promising Practices document, which outlines the experiences and suggestions of previous language grantees.

Be sure to check out these other language resources:

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