Language, Identity, and Community Control: The Tagish First Voices Project

Language, Identity, and Community Control: The Tagish First Voices Project

Kate Hennessy (University of British Columbia, Canada) and Patrick J. Moore (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 3
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-298-5.ch024
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To all my children, we are losing our language. You are our future leaders; you must learn our language. It is the root and heart of our culture. I pass you our language. You must learn our language. — “A Message to our Children,” Tagish First Voices Web site. From the turn of the century into the early 1970s, the Choutla Anglican residential school at Carcross in the Yukon Territory was home to generations of Tagish and Tlingit children. Victims of an assimilationist educational ideology that separated them from their families for at least ten months of the year, many children were denied the teachings of their elders, the right to speak their native language and, as a result, many aspects of their identity as native people. The Tagish and Tlingit community at Carcross has since come to terms with the pain and loss associated with the Choutla school and has become empowered to move beyond the extreme paternalism of the residential school era to greater self-determination and a deep sense of cultural identity. It is symbolic that in the very place where the native languages were aggressively decimated by the residential school policies, members of the local community are taking control of information technology to ensure the revival of the Tagish language. Control over technology has in this case facilitated the assertion of authority over every way their language is represented and made it possible for their cultural values and practices to define the nature of such representations.

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