Posted to the Ethnos Project by on September 7th, 2014

This paper describes how certain types of electronic technologies, specifically CD-ROMs, computerized databases, and telecommunications networks, are being incorporated into language and culture revitalization projects in Alaska and around the Pacific. The paper presents two examples of CD-ROMs and computerized databases from Alaska, describing how one elementary school produced a bilingual Yup’ik-English CD-ROM for a traditional story. It also examines how in southeast Alaska, Tlingit elders are working as consultants to create a computerized database (a talking map) of sites in the Glacier Bay area of historical and cultural significance to people of the Native village of Hoonah. The paper provides examples of how telecommunications are helping students use computers to write about their Native cultures and to write in their Native languages for distant audiences. It concludes that extending indigenous language use into cyber space will depend on local conditions (e.g., the condition of the telephone lines and the preferred orthography). It notes that for maximum value, the use of the Native language in cyberspace must always be a part of, and related to, its use in the face-to-face space of the classroom.

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