• Adult ancestral language learning and effects on identity

      Peter, Hishinlai' R.; Siekmann, Sabine; Koester, David; Marlow, Patrick; Sims, Christine (2019-05)
      This qualitative study explored the relationship between Gwich'in adult language learning and identity development. Identity is dynamic, fluid and reflects how a person positions themselves and is positioned by others. A person's sense of self influences their feelings, actions, and behaviors. Using grounded theory as an analytical tool and activity theory as a theoretical lens, this study offers self-as-a leading activity as a way to conceptualize the identity formation of two adult Gwich'in language learners. The way a person looks is not a factor in Gwich'in identity, and also to claim the identity of being Gwich'in, one does not have to know the language. There are other strong identity markers, such as cultural knowledge, knowing who your ancestors were and where you came from. However, those who are learning the Gwich'in language feel a stronger connection to gain deeper insights into the Gwich'in worldview. The final outcome of this research are the implications of Activity Theory, which can be used as an analytical tool. Using Activity Theory can help explain for language learners and others, the rules, division of labor, and help identify tensions or contradictions between what the community want to see happen for language learning. The data in this research identifies tensions or contradictions that the main participants experienced, such as the need for positive support, language usage, and practicing to gain proficiency.
    • Community-Based Lexicography

      Sikorski, Kathy R. (2002)
      The topic of lexicography generates interesting and diverse opinions and emotions about languages, not only within academics but also among the very people whose heritage languages are being preserved, or in some cases, revitalized. Some speakers and learners of heritage languages do not relate to linguistic terms found in academic works, but at the same time, junior dictionaries do not contain enough linguistic information to satisfy the academics. Can these issues be resolved?
    • Diideets'ii in our pathway (in our future): Gwich'in educational philosophy and transformative praxis in K-12 education

      Fisher, Charleen; Leonard, Beth; Schneider, William; Aruskevich, Kas; Koskey, Michael (2018-05)
      Gwich'in pedagogy is largely undocumented in Western academia. Gwich'in epistemology includes holistic perspectives on all Western content areas, and crosses the usual segmented knowledge genres. Inter-generational transmission of Gwich'in knowledge occurs in many places including the natural environment, with long-standing cultural ties to place. Gwich'in pedagogy is relational, place-based, holistic, cooperative, purposeful and subjective. Gwich'in gaagwidandaii, or communal knowledge, predates the inception of many world societies. Gwich'in concepts presented in this paper will include the introduction of a framework called Kheegwadadhaak'a', translated to mean, "We just keep the fire going." This framework is a visualization. Important concepts of Gwich'in pedagogy include traditional ideas of assessments or standards using the phrases nil'ee t'ah'in and ch'aadaii, both meaning that someone has a natural talent or is adept at something, for girls and boys, respectively. Learning, or gik'yanjii in Gwich'in, also means "to find out, notice or sense." This comprehension includes a deep, contextual understanding of traditional Gwich'in knowledge. The three types of Gwich'in knowledge are gaagwidandaii, gihk'agwagwaanjik, and gaatr'oahtan. These translate as"collectively known, individually learned, and taught knowledge," respectively. Gwich'in have a complex and relational pedagogy. This pedagogy attempts to achieve contextuality, or duulee ginlii, which translates as "proficiency, agility, ability to do almost anything, being extremely good at anything they do, or overall 'sharpness' in life." This process is importantly both a communal and personal journey.
    • Diigwandak: stories from a Gwich'in language classroom

      Hayton, Allan; Siekmann, Sabine; Hishinlai', "Kathy R. Sikorski"; Marlow, Patrick (2013-05)
      This study describes a semester in an Indigenous language high school classroom during the spring of 2011. The goal of this research is to capture the experiences of a novice Indigenous language teacher, and his students. High and low points are shared as the researcher seeks to find his place in the work of Indigenous language revitalization, and students strive to learn a second language. Data for this qualitative research was collected through teacher auto-ethnographic journal entries, lesson plans, student journals and projects, exit interviews with students, and two recorded classroom observations. Emergent themes of Time, Responsibility, Community, Fluency, Emotions, and Self-Doubt capture significant moments in the classroom, and reveal close connections between teacher and student experiences. The purpose of conducting this research is to provide insights for novice Indigenous language teachers into their classroom dynamics. The researcher also discovered areas of possible future research for Indigenous language teaching and learning.