Indigenous language revival as a form of decolonization

Yaama! The notion of decolonization is becoming increasingly apparent in Aboriginal discussions about language revival here in so-called Australia. The discourse of other indigenous peoples around the world illustrates this trend also. Like many other words and phrases, ‘decolonization’ has become a slogan of the Aboriginal movement. However, in-depth discussions as to what this means in practical terms when applied to language revival for instance have been few and far between thus far. In my search for literature on this idea of language revival as a form of decolonization, I came across this 2 hour lecture from two Native language revival activists in North America. The issues they explore, and the philosophical frameworks they propose in relation to “decolonizing language reviatalization” have been very illuminating for me in my own journey as someone working to reclaim my ancestral tongue, Anaywan. The Native people of North America and their languages have had a very similar experience when compared with our own. Therefore, they also face many of the same issues in setting out to revive their languages. I particularly like the metaphor put forward in regards to decolonization being akin to the process of ecological succession taking place following a forest fire, with “invasive plant species” threatening the integrity of regeneration.

Uytika lanapura,

Callum Clayton-Dixon

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