Native Languages of the Southwest at UT Arlington
From the 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop; the Alabama group, with UT Arlington Linguistics &Student Lori McLain Pierce

Department of Linguistics & TESOL | The University of Texas at Arlington

Native Languages of the Southwest at UT Arlington

Press Clippings & Other News

Various projects connected to work done under the Native American Languages Lab with Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald, her students, fellow collaborators and partner language communities have garnered publicity in the media. Specific links appear below.

Makepeace Productions featured quotes from NALL students Kimberly Johnson and Frankie Pennington regarding a recent screening of the film We Still Live Here.

I really enjoyed seeing We Still Live Here. It tells an inspiring story and was encouraging for some Native attendees who are concerned about their own heritage languages and working toward language reclamation. —Kimberly Johnson, MA student in Linguistics, UTA

Seeing Noam Chomsky's involvement reinforced just how dire the state of the Wampanoag language was/is. We Still Live Here also portrays an excellent example of child language acquisition and that native speakers of a language absolutely can be produced regardless of whether a language is in danger or even extinct. —Frankie Pennington, Linguistics Major, UTA
The Shorthorn covered the TEDxUTA talks where Dr. Fitzgerald talked about endangered languages. The Native American Languages Lab had an interactive session booth coinciding with the TEDx talks which attracted people both familiar and unfamiliar with Native American languages and culture.
The Shorthorn published an article concerning the 20th Annual Powwow at UTA, which was rescheduled due to inclement weather. Dr. Fitzgerald was mentioned for her support as co-advisor to the Native American Student Association.
Fitzgerald said she donated because she wanted to show her support for the group by helping restore the lost funds.

“Student organizations have such limited budget,” she said. “Powwows take a lot of preparation and money. NASA is small but has such incredible support from alumni and the DFW community.”
UTA Focus on Faculty event, as presented in the MavWire, featured Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald who presented "Breathing New Life into Native American Languages" as her talk in the UT Arlington Central Library.
Dr. Fitzgerald published an article for Huffington Post concerning heritage languages.

Human beings have nothing that is simultaneously so intellectually intricate and complex as language, and at the same time, so emotional and intimate. Language is personal, and yet cerebral and analytical. And for these young people and these determined elders, the blessing of their heritage language, that Mother Language, is not to be denied.
Dr. Fitzgerald wrote a piece for Huffington Post about social justice and Native Languages.

Language and justice connect. The United Nations recognizes that human rights include language rights. The 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples directly addresses language rights in three of its articles. Article 13 states that indigenous people have the basic human right to pass on their languages to their children and grandchildren, to maintain those languages, and to revitalize them.
Dr. Fitzgerald posted a guest piece for Rising Voices, appearing on their Global Voices news site, concerning community based collaborative revitalization efforts in Oklahoma and Texas.
Dr. Fitzgerald was quoted in an article in Aljazeera America on Cherokee language revitalization efforts.

“They’ve done a tremendous amount in terms of having the resources — speakers and technology and expertise — to work with companies like Google and Microsoft to open up Cherokee language and literacy to their community and others,” said Fitzgerald, whose research and teachings focus on documenting and revitalizing Native American languages.
Global Voices referenced Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald's Huffington Post article and mentioned work of the UTA Native American Languages Lab in an article about the Indigenous Language Challenge.
Native American Times news outlet picked up a press release from UT Arlington regarding free indigenous language workshops organized by the UTA Native American Languages Lab. These workshops, located at the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas in Dallas, TX and the Chickasaw Community Center in Ada, OK, list Dr. Fitzgerald as an instructor.
Dr. Fitzgerald wrote a piece for Huffington Post about Native American languages in U.S. history and geography.

This may be a lot of history, but Native Americans aren't history. Neither are Native languages. It's November. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month. Celebrate Native American languages!
Huffington Post has an article on the Indigenous Language Challenge written by Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald.

Home is where children's language development thrives and grows, and where children acquire the many different speech forms that express the human experience. What gets lost? So much, from the everyday language of instructions, telling jokes, or a recipe, to the ritual language of prayers, ceremonial speeches, or sharing stories of the ancestors. For too many families, the home language shifted to English, to the detriment of Native American language and culture. Educational policies were one of the factors that accelerated shift to English, resulting in Native languages becoming endangered languages.
Dr. Fitzgerald wrote a Huffington Post article concerning two pieces of legislature dealing with Native American languages, sponsored by states where Native American languages are spoken.

But this isn't the only fight out there with Native American languages at the forefront. Two bipartisan bills are under consideration in Congress: the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act (H.R.4214/S.1948) and the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R.726/S.2299). If passed, the bills will profoundly impact on the revitalization of Native American languages and the education of Native American youth.
KRLD/1080 AM (CBS Radio) interviewed Professor Colleen Fitzgerald about the Institute on Collaborative Language Institute, an international gathering of the world’s top linguists focused on preserving endangered languages. “Our language is an essential part of being human and how we express our humanity,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve lost part of ourselves if we don’t have a connection to our heritage language.” A National Science Foundation grant awarded to Fitzgerald funded last month’s conference.
The Shorthorn ran an article on the CoLang 2014 screening of "Language Healers," a documentary in-progress screened by director Brian McDermott.

Jean Luc Pierite, a representative of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe in Marksville, La, said he connected with the film because within it shows Greymorning conflicting with his tribe on teaching his native Arapaho language, and he said this is a common issue in some areas...“Language is a vehicle for political empowerment, whether it’s in the tribe, or in the outside communities,” Pierite said. Pierite and his family have been actively working to revitalize their language for about 40 years, he said. “As indigenous people, we are supposed to have greater priorities,” Pierite said of Native Americans being more active in communities.
Bai Bibo and Xu Xianming, Yuxi Normal University professors in Yunnan, China, who attended CoLang 2014 and gave a Models talk thanks to CoLang sponsor, the Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies, garnered coverage in The Shorthorn.
A Shorthorn article included quotes from numerous UTA linguistics students, University of Kansas CoLang 2012 co-director Carlos Nash, and Irene Silentman, executive director at Navajo Language Academy: “It gives us publicity, makes Navajo much stronger," Silentman said. "It makes us proud that we’re Navajo, and it’s not a dead language just yet.”

“CoLang is helping in keeping a culture that is truly American preserved,” said Stephanie Vielle (Blackfoot), political science major and NASA president. “The languages that have once been forbidden to speak are now being brought out of the shadows and into the light. Why shouldn’t the rest of the world learn the complexities of these languages? There was once a time, foreigners looked at my ancestors as ignorant individuals when they spoke their language...CoLang is supporting and educating the resurrection of a once forbidden language. I think the work done is very meaningful and important.
The Shorthorn article on the Navajo-language version of Star Wars, screened at CoLang 2014, included a video interview with Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald.
As part of the opening of CoLang 2014, The Shorthorn ran an article that drew from the opening talk by Lorna Williams, Lil’wat First Nation/University of Victoria and First People’s Cultural Council Chair.

At CoLang’s first public event, Williams spoke about the activities indigenous language communities in British Colombia conduct to fight for their languages. She also spoke about the legacy and education of colonization, reconnecting generations and communities with their native languages and how to enable collaborations between education and native languages.

“We have to help each other. It’s a mantra I’ve been using,” Williams said. “We cannot do the work of keeping our languages alive, we can’t do it by ourselves on either side of the fence and it’s only by really facing each other, walking side by side that we are able to do this work.”
Native American Times news outlet picked up a press release by UT Arlington's Bridget Lewis on CoLang 2014.

“For most of my career, I’ve worked to preserve endangered languages and to promote the ethical and responsible training of students and community members in language work,” Fitzgerald said. “To be able to facilitate the collaboration of researchers, language activists, students and others who study indigenous populations and the preservation of Native American languages is an absolute privilege.”
An article on CoLang 2014: Institute on Collaborative Language Research helped to highlight Native American languages, one of the themes of the 2014 institute, as well as support from many units on campus, including UT Arlington's Native American Student Association.

“CoLang is helping in keeping a culture that is truly American preserved,” said Stephanie Vielle (Blackfoot), political science major and NASA president. “The languages that have once been forbidden to speak are now being brought out of the shadows and into the light. Why shouldn’t the rest of the world learn the complexities of these languages? There was once a time, foreigners looked at my ancestors as ignorant individuals when they spoke their language...CoLang is supporting and educating the resurrection of a once forbidden language. I think the work done is very meaningful and important.
Coverage in the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts e-newsletter highlighted a recent trip by Dr. Fitzgerald and linguistics undergraduate and graduate students to Tahlequah, OK, the capital of Cherokee Nation.
The trip allowed students to work with Cherokee language and traditional knowledge experts in town for the annual Cherokee Language Consortium. Students participated in hands on language revitalization activities, assisting Native American community members with learning dictionary software, and collecting language data and ethnobotany and other information as part of a UTA Sustainability Committee faculty grant for “Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Sustainability and Indigenous Language Documentation.
Indian Country Today Media Network ran a story on the Indigenous languages forums, including an Indigenous Languages Documentation & Revitalization Seminar presented by Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald and Dr. Brad Montgomery-Anderson, for the 2013 Symposium on the American Indian.

An article in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education talks about the 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop.

Claiming one’s ancestral tongue has its merits, Dr. Fitzgerald said, “There are studies that show there is significant, [positive] educational impact for underrepresented groups when their educational experience includes a component of their heritage language,” she said. “One of our goals — in a social justice context — is to … allow Native American children to express their traditions, their heritage in the same setting where there are other students.”

(Full magazine article)

Doctoral student Lori McLain Pierce, who is working with Choctaw and involved with revitalization work, was recently awarded the Jess Hay Chancellor's Award by the UT System, was featured in the Graduate School's newsletter and in the College of Liberal Arts e-newsletter.

UT Arlington Magazine featured Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald in the feature on 'Focus on the Faculty' feature.

Fitzgerald collaborates with language teachers and program directors as well as with tribal elders and assures them that her projects are long term and not for profit. “For many Native American communities, language is from the creator,” she says. “It is sacred.”

The 2011 President's Report brought attention to Fitzgerald and her use of service-learning in 'Imparting Knowledge Through Innovative Instruction'.

Institute for Collaborative Language Research

The Institute on Collaborative Language Research (InField/CoLang) was hosted by the University of Kansas in 2012 and will be hosted in 2014 by UT Arlington, under Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald as Director. Some of the 2012 press coverage for the Kansas institute came from efforts by the CoLang Activism course where the participants collaboratively wrote a press release on the Institute.  The Activism course was co-taught/facilitated by Colleen Fitzgerald and Phil Cash Cash, a Cayuse-Nez Perce speaker and doctoral student at the University of Arizona.

LJWorld logo

An article in Lawrence Journal-World talks about the current institute and the institute upcoming in the summer of 2014.

Press release on CoLang 2012, collaboratively written by the Activism class co-taught/facilitated by Dr. Fitzgerald and Phillip Cash Cash.

Oklahoma Breath of Life 2012

The funding secured by Colleen Fitzgerald and OU's Mary Linn has received a fair amount of attention in the media for Oklahoma's Breath of Life project. Here is the coverage that we have seen. (More about UT Arlington's participation in the project here.)

Oklahoman: NewsOK logo

The Oklahoman ran an article on the 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life workshop which featured UT Arlington student Libby Tatz, who served as a mentor for the Cheyenne attendees.

National Native News logo

National Native News carried a radio story by Susan Shannon (KGOU) about the 2012 OKBOL Breath of Life Workshop. It aired June 7. Andrea Muru, one of the UT Arlington students who mentored the Natchez attendees, was interviewed in this clip.

KERA Think logo

In episode a 20 July 2011 episode of Think, Krys Boyd interviewed Colleen Fitzgerald and Mary Linn (University of Oklahoma) about the Oklahoma Breath of Life Project, Native American languages, and language endangerment.

Star-Telegram logo

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran an article by Diane Smith, "UTA helps Native Americans learn to save own languages," discussing the Breath of Life workshops for Oklahoma Native American languages that Colleen Fitzgerald is helping spearhead.

"We are growing field linguists," said Colleen Fitzgerald, associate professor and chairwoman of UT Arlington's Linguistics Department. "We are transferring knowledge to community members so they can teach their own languages."

The article was picked up by the AP and received nation-wide distribution.

News OK logo

Darla Slipke's "American Indian language program receives $90K grant" (10 June 2011) discusses the impact that the Oklahoma Breath of Life project is having among speakers of Native American languages.

Indian Country Today logo

Indian Country Today ran an article, "Native American Language Program Gets Funded for Another Year," about Breath of Life language revitalization efforts funded by the NSF Grant that Colleen Fitzgerald is co-PI on.

Fitzgerald said UT Arlington is creating linguistic databases that will enable the creation of online dictionaries—like the one for the Natchez—that will help revitalize the many endangered Native languages.

UT Arlington logo

The UT Arlington Press Center put out a news release on 25 May 2011 entitled "UT Arlington linguist wins NSF grant to breathe new life into endangered Native American languages."

The grant will fund research associated with the Oklahoma Breath of Life workshop planned for next May in Norman, Okla. The program will reunite linguists with Native Americans who attended a similar workshop there last year.

“That project was very successful. Three communities participated: Osage, Otoe, and Natchez,” Fitzgerald said. The 2012 workshop will reinforce the original linguistic mentor-mentee partnerships with those three communities and provide for seven more groups whose languages have no fluent speakers.

KPFT 90.1 logo

Houston radio station program, "People of Earth," did an interview with Colleen Fitzgerald on the Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop and the current state of Native American languages. The program focuses on Native American issues; the link leads to the archived podcast, with the interview starting about 20 minutes in.

R&D logo

R&D ran a piece (from an NSF press release) on NSF grants that are helping to digitally document endangered languages. The Oklahoma Breath of Life project was included among those listed because of the digital documentation component being spearheaded by Colleen Fitzgerald.