Dramatic Actress

Preserving our Mother Tongues Online

The use of Internet Communication Technologies as a tool for preserving American Indian indigenous languages
© 2015 K. Whitney

According to a United Nations fact sheet, languages are disappearing at a rate of one language every two weeks. As indigenous people, we must protect our cultural identities and heritage in order to preserve traditional knowledge, our laws and histories, and cultural diversity.

American Indian internet use is understudied, but there seem to be problems of access and difficulties in attracting native teachers and specialists to the field of computer science, thereby hindering the progression of Indians as consumers into contributors.

Some tribes have excellent language programs that are enhanced by online access! We can examine their successes to inform decisions about future language programs.

The Internet and its tools offer the promise of preserving our tongues. We need to ensure culturally-appropriate program design, broad connectivity, and encouragement to tribal leadership to endorse online learning.

About the author...

Kari Whitney is part Tlingit--a member of the Yéil (raven) moiety, the T'akdeintaan (seagull) clan, the L'ook (coho) and Xíxch' (frog) subclans, and the Táax' Hít (snail house). She does not yet speak the Tlingit language.