Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture series focused on revitalization efforts

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Program to feature scholars, professionals working in the field

January 8, 2020


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a free lecture series on Indigenous language revitalization efforts, presented by scholars and professionals working in the field.

The goal is to share teaching techniques more broadly and to connect language professionals working to perpetuate Native languages.

“SHI’s position has always been that language and culture must be taught at the community level,’’ said SHI President Rosita Worl. “We are pleased to present this lecture series, which we believe will be helpful to language professionals and students in furthering our collective efforts to advance revitalization of Native languages.”

The series will feature the following speakers:

Wednesday, Jan. 15

  • X’unei Lance Twitchell
    Shifting Value Systems: Indigenous Language Revitalization Strategies — This presentation examines the fundamental value shifts that Indigenous populations experience when their language becomes endangered. In order to bring a language back to strength, the value system of individuals, families, organizations, communities, and governments must be re-centered in the Indigenous thought world.

Monday, Feb. 3

  • William Pila Wilson and Kauanoe Kamana
    The ‘Aha Punana Leo Approach To Hawaiian Language Revitalization — The non-profit ʻAha Pūnana Leo is credited with beginning and sustaining the current Hawaiian language revitalization movement. When the movement began, full proficiency in Hawaiian was restricted to those born before 1920 and to a small population of 200 on a remote island. There were less than 50 children under 18 able to speak the language fluently. Today nearly 4,000 children are enrolled in schooling through Hawaiian and the language is the most widely reported non-English home language of children in the state. ʻAha Pūnana Leo President Kauanoe Kamanā and William Wilson will describe how the organization moved forward to reach the current level of language vitality. Included in that description will be the role of networking with other Native peoples, including Alaska Natives, in assuring programmatic success.

Wednesday, Feb. 12

  • Patrick Werito
    Engaging Schools to Support the Local Community Expectations for Language Learning — This presentation will provide an overview of how other Indigenous communities have changed their perception of language use and engaged in an approach that affirms and renews an appreciation of their language within the community.  This renewed appreciation becomes the blueprint for schools to adopt and validate the community’s expectations for language learning and help move the pendulum towards schools supporting the indigenous communities’ objectives.

Date TBD

  • Lecture TBD

All lectures will begin at 5 pm in the clan house at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lectures will be videotaped and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel. Presenters will also be interviewed for a podcast which will be posted after the lectures.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,