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Language of the Heart: Narrative Inquiry into Indigenous Language Revitalization through Early Childhood Education

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This thesis examines heritage language learning and loss, and revitalization. It stems from my initial interests in Indigenous language revitalization and sustainment, bilingual education, and specifically dual language education in the United States. In this thesis, I describe my inquiry

This thesis examines heritage language learning and loss, and revitalization. It stems from my initial interests in Indigenous language revitalization and sustainment, bilingual education, and specifically dual language education in the United States. In this thesis, I describe my inquiry journey through narratives of the significant experiences and people I met and the scholarship I engaged in, particularly through visiting Keres Children’s Learning Center at Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, and attending the La Cosecha Dual Language Education conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In these narratives, I also reflect on what I have learned, how I was personally impacted by what I was learning and my thoughts and ideas about particular issues. These narratives helped me gain a deeper understanding of and expand my knowledge of heritage learning, bilingual education, dual language education and critical issues of language development and promotion (or non-promotion) in our country’s schools and families. Equally important is the knowledge I gained about dual language pedagogy and its critical importance to language revitalization programs serving Indigenous children, and their families and communities. I begin my thesis with a review of literature followed by a description of my methods and then move on to my narratives of significant learning moments, chronologically, and then summarize my key findings. I end with, ironically yet crucially with the most important lesson I learned through my inquiry journey—an understanding of my linguistic self.

This thesis examines the questions of

1. To become a Dual Language Education expert, researcher, or scholar, what does it take?
2. In what ways can a non-Native help Indigenous communities engaged in indigenous language revitalization and sustainment (ILRS)? What would they need to learn or know?

Some significant findings of my thesis work include

1. The strength, versatility, and challenges of the dual language education model in a national context
2. Culturally-sustaining pedagogy and strategies for adapting lessons to local culture
3. The centrality of tribal sovereignty and tribal control over the Indigenous language in order to grow and maintain an IRLS effort
4. Ways in which a non-Native can help an ILRS initiative
5. Respect for native communities’ right to say no to research

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Date Created
2017-05

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Art as a spiritual expression for Indigenous well-being

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Art is a form of spiritual expression that is thriving in many Indigenous cultures. It can take many forms, meanings and have a multitude of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual effects on its creator as well as its audience. Amongst

Art is a form of spiritual expression that is thriving in many Indigenous cultures. It can take many forms, meanings and have a multitude of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual effects on its creator as well as its audience. Amongst American Indians, art has been a method for maintaining holistic well-being intended to heal and cope with traumatic experiences. In this thesis, I examine the western societal and cultural influences that have led to the loss of cultural identity and examine approaches and practices that aim to re-establish a resilient connection to identity and well-being using art as a spiritual catalyst. Literary research and articles were reviewed related to the issue of art as a form of spiritual expression in Indigenous cultures. An autoethnography was conducted with the intent to record and reflect on the well-being of the researcher in relation to her artistic expression. Journaling and vlogging were used as research methods and painting, sketching, and beading was used as artistic methods. Over the course of six months, over 50 videos with 30 hours of raw footage were recorded; averaging 2 hours per day. The results are reflected in the researchers free-flowing and emotionally driven reflection of experiences that have driven her artwork. This thesis supports the establishment of art as a form of spiritual expression for transforming the current western focused health care paradigm to one that recognizes, values and employs Indigenous insight, methodologies, worldviews, culture and spirituality.

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Date Created
2018