Hualapai Language Revitalization and Literacy

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Conner Kolter
Hualapai Language Revitalization and Literacy
The Hualapai Indians, like many other indigenous societies, have faced the continuing threat of losing their culture. For this particular society, through perseverance, hard work and a helping hand from many people outside the Native American community, the Hualapai’s have been able to provide a writing system for their endangered language. This step has proven to be crucial in keeping the language and has also become an example for other Native American tribes who worry about their mother language becoming extinct. This success story has become a symbol that not all is lost if effort is put into something that is deeply cared about.

A culture and society’s language is one of, if not the most, important aspects to what makes them different from everyone else. Without that attribute, the people that belong to that language can feel lost and lose a sense of who they are. In the Hualapai culture, members who were in school in the 1930’s were forced to attend an English-only speaking school where the Hualapai language would be physically beaten out of them. Those children, who are now the grandparents of the present children of the small tribe, stress the importance of learning their native language considering how large a presence English has around them. With the new writing system, the members of the Hualapai tribe can keep their language and have it passed down from generation to generation.

Learning more than one linguistic system is a challenge and when teaching the mother language at home is its only exposure, it becomes harder to develop those multilingual skills. With the difficulties that come with learning two languages, some children give up learning one, usually the native tongue and with advancing languages such as English in the business and political world, children might not even learn their cultural language at home. Just as quickly as these dominant languages have been growing,...
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