I have blogged several times about vanishing languages and the people who seek to preserve them.
Now it seems that community radio is getting into the act, with programs that are becoming a piece of the cultural-survival puzzle. This is happening worldwide, including in the United States.
“The swift and sure loss of indigenous language in the U.S. was hardly an accident,” writes Alexis Hauk at the Atlantic. “From the latter part of the 19th century to the latter part of the 20th, the Bureau of Indian Affairs systematically sent generations of Native American kids into boarding schools that were more focused on punishment and assimilation than on education. In a piece for NPR in 2008, Charla Bear reported on the terrible conditions that persisted at these schools for a century—how kids were given Anglo names, bathed in kerosene, and forced to shave their heads.
“In recent years, the government has taken steps to reverse some of the damage. In 1990, the Native American Languages Act was passed, recognizing the right of indigenous populations to speak their own language.”
Lobbying by Loris Taylor, the CEO and president of Native Public Media, “helped lead to the creation in 2009 of the [Federal Communications Commission]‘s ‘Tribal Priority’ for broadcasting,” writes Hauk, “and then, a year later, to the establishment of the FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy, which promotes technology and communication access on tribal lands.”
Mark Camp, deputy executive director at Cultural Survival, says that “Congress’s passage of the Community Radio Act in 2011 means that community radio stations could soon—in Camp’s words—’mushroom,’ which offers a lot of potential for Native American media on reservations, where there is usually little infrastructure and in many cases no electricity (certainly no wifi). In these areas, a low-power FM station that’s plugged into the grid in the center of town allows people with battery-powered, handheld radios to listen in to what’s happening all around them.” Read more.
Update: Asakiyume adds this link from “The Take Away.”
Arizona’s KUYI 88.1 broadcasts in Hopi to approximately 9,000 people. Photograph: KUYI