Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 72

72 Arctic Yearbook 2014 project to understand the complex dynamics of Arctic language ecologies. This is accompanied by a belief that policy changes, at the international and national levels, need to be made in order to create an environment that more favorably fosters indigenous language use. The Arctic Indigenous Language Vitality Initiative resulted from this meeting and is a project of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) of the Arctic Council. Although the long-term goals are to achieve vitality and sustainability for Arctic indigenous languages, the first steps include an action plan with short-term and more intermediate goals, and setting intermediary deadlines. Initial plans to have completed a comprehensive assessment of the vitality of all Arctic languages by this time were re-evaluated as being overly ambitious, and aspirations have been adjusted to more realistic goals. [Proceedings of the 2008 meeting are available at the SDWG website (www.sdwg.org/media.php?mid=980). Details of subsequent meeting and report can be found in Tulloch (2012), which includes a summary of the findings of the 2008 meeting.] To clarify the overall organization, the Arctic Indigenous Language Initiative is an indigenous-driven and indigenously defined project, as determined by the Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council, the six indigenous groups who have a seat at the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council organizes its activities in six working groups, which are comprised of a combination of representatives from the various sectorial ministries, government agencies and researchers. One of these six working group is the SDWG; this project is one of a slate of activities of the SDWG that has been approved by the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials. It is thus at once an indigenous project and a project operating at a very high inter-governmental level. The project is managed by the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canada, (or ICC Canada) and more specifically by the President of ICC Canada, Duane Smith, who is also the co-vice chair of SDWG. The workings of the project itself are overseen by a Steering Committee, which consists of one member of each of the Permanent Participants. The authors of this paper are directly involved in this organizational structure, with Grenoble working for ICC Canada as Project Coordinator and Olsen serving as Chair of the Steering Committee. This complex structure represents the complexity of the overall project. It aims to operate at very local levels to foster language vitality in the home, at the level of individual speakers and at the level of speakers within communities. At the same time it also operates in the international arena, reporting to the SDWG of the Arctic Council and working with governmental officials to create the conditions needed for language vitality at all levels. Goals The long-term goal of the Arctic Indigenous Language Initiative is to achieve vitality and sustainability for Arctic indigenous languages, but in order to achieve this goal, there are necessary first steps. The project participants have defined three key areas to focus the initial assessment: (1) Arctic language policy; (2) language acquisition; and (3) language vitality. Committees have been established to analyze each of these areas and make recommendations for improvements or changes as needed. We discuss each area separately in the next sections. The first years of the project are focused on the effort to assess existing resources and identify both gaps and strengths. Each of the three committees is currently assessing existing resources (human, material, and financial), and policies and practices, along with possible impediments and challenges, in each of these areas. In this Grenoble & Olsen (Puju)