Native Languages of the Americas
Native Languages of the Americas is a collection of online resources on more than 800 indigenous languages of the Americas. Languages are sorted by language group (Algonquian, Mayan, Uto-Aztecan, etc.), with each individual language having its own page and set of resources. Such resources include information on the language itself, such as vocabulary words, pronunciation guides, and dictionaries, as well as resources on the culture that the language belongs to, mythology and folklore, and more. For example, the page on the Cherokee (Tsalagi) language includes pages on vocabulary like Cherokee Animal Words and Cherokee Colors as well as links to the Tsulehisanvhi Cherokee Text Editor and Cherokee Nation Language Services, among other things. Many of these resources come from modern-day speakers of the Native American languages, while others link to academic websites or tribal websites. Native Languages of the Americas is a non-profit corporation based in Minnesota that runs the site and conducts other community engagement work around Native American language preservation.
Aside from language preservation, Native Languages of the Americas also functions as a unique teaching resource. Housing cultural and historical information alongside linguistics allows students not only to make connections between language development and individual culture, but also across cultures to other language groups. Students are also able to access information on indigenous languages in the modern-day. In the classroom, teachers can utilize Native Languages of the Americas to discuss the place of language in stories of colonialism. Many well-known landmarks, especially in the United States, have had their indigenous names overwritten by Western colonizers. Renaming physical landmarks has helped to remove indigenous presence from the narrative of the land and still sparks intense debate. For example, the restoration of Mount McKinley’s indigenous name has been debated for decades and was officially changed to Denali in 2015. Another example is the iconic U.S. landmark, Mount Rushmore. Originally a sacred land belonging to the Great Sioux Nation and called Tunkasila Sakpe, Mount Rushmore has sparked similar debates and protests as Denali. Teachers can utilize these examples and others to guide students in thinking critically about the place of language in colonial narratives across the globe.
Functionally, Native Languages of the Americas operates similarly to a digital library. The resources of each language are linked, with some resources housed on the site itself while others link to other sites. However, because the site does not have a dedicated maintenance team, some of these links to other sites are broken. Despite this, Native Languages of the Americas is a potent and valuable resource for introducing historical and contemporary linguistics into the classroom as an extension of the discussion of native peoples in the Western Hemisphere.