Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 79

79 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Differences in time, space and language mean that communication is a major challenge. Although English cuts across all these territories as a major global language, and is often the lingua franca for international meetings, information needs to be delivered to participants in a great number of different languages. The problem is compounded by the fact that many Arctic indigenous peoples continue to live in relatively remote areas. A large percentage of the stakeholders do not have easy internet access; in some regions there is no mobile phone service. Engaging speakers in remote communities can be challenging. Digital language resources are thus only part of the solution. In many parts of the Arctic, language shift is a legacy from colonial regimes that actively suppressed the use of indigenous languages. Elders in Alaska, Canada and the Russian Federation alike report the carryover of trauma from their experiences in the boarding or residential schools, a situation which has affected their choices about which languages to use with their children, and their own self-esteem. Healing is an integral part of the process of language reclamation in the Arctic. Many of the project’s leaders believe that healing is underway, but there is still much work to be done. The project is first and foremost conceived of as an indigenous-driven initiative, formulated on indigenous terms. Yet collaboration with multiple partners, including academic (and often nonindigenous) linguists, policy makers and political leaders, seen as critical to success, is labor-intensive and time-consuming. The commitment to collaboration comes from acknowledgement that there is insufficient capacity and expertise within indigenous communities alone to do all the necessary work, and a recognition that changing some aspects of the language ecologies requires outside support, in particular from governmental agencies. How can we balance this different perspectives and approaches? One major challenge is to bring the indigenous values and collaborations together with external partners in a seamless fashion. Last, there are the pressures of time and money. The kinds of assessment that people desire take considerable resources and are very time-consuming; creating a full language profile of each Arctic indigenous language would be expensive and would require many years to complete. Meanwhile, many of the languages are in advanced stages of shift, and measures need to be taken immediately to revitalize them. The aspirations for thorough evaluation to inform language practices and policies are at times at direct odds with the needs to take immediate action. Conclusion The ultimate goal of this initiative is to promote and maintain the vitality of Arctic indigenous languages. In some cases revitalization work is necessary, while in others measures need to be taken to insure ongoing vitality. The current design of the project is aimed at identifying the needs of all