Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

British Columbia is home to 34 different Indigenous languages, most of which are in danger of losing fluency due to the combined effects of introduced diseases and assimilationist Indian Residential Schools. The Haida language, or Xaad Kil (pronounced “haad kill”), is considered critically endangered with only 9 elderly fluent speakers left. Many Haida believe that revitalizing Xaad Kil is important for keeping their culture alive: they see Xaad Kil as a cultural keystone that keeps worldview, artistic expression, food gathering, dances, stories, and songs integrated together as a unified whole. Xaad Kil also helps assert Aboriginal land rights: identification of traditional place names demonstrates use and occupation of lands since time immemorial. Xaad Kil names of medicinal plants and foods also contain important environmental information. Indigenous communities are adopting a range of strategies to revitalize their languages, including: master-apprentice programs, early childhood immersion programs, and technological approaches such as audio databases, language apps, and social media projects like Haidawood. Learning Xaad Kil can be a challenge: there are limited resources and often language learners are overwhelmed with obstacles. Haidawood helps make Haida language learning fun by bringing Haida stories to life using the power of stop motion animation and embracing an “aesthetic of accessibility” that creates beautiful art out of readily available materials, including carved puppet faces and sets made from cardboard. Haidawood seeks to help revitalize the Haida language, facilitate inter-cultural understanding, and inspire other communities to preserve and share their own stories.

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