“A language dies every 14 days. A language dies when the last speaker of that language dies, and the world loses the knowledge that was contained in that language. Even before the last speaker dies, a language is useless when it no longer defines a community and cannot be used to communicate meaning… Half of the languages spoken today are expected to vanish during this century… And eighty percent of the languages spoken in the United States are endangered”
The popular quote “Every time a [language] dies, a library burns” deepens the understanding of the degree of loss and its impact within indigenous communities. Encapsulated in language is an entire repository of ancestral knowledge. There are critical concepts embedded in language that expresses belief systems, laws to follow according to a particular order, as well as techniques inscribed to live on the land. These concepts provide the proper framework for our identity as indigenous people. With the era of colonization and forced assimilation many indigenous languages were lost and with them an understanding of the lands on which they were removed from and relocated on. With the introduction of new technologies and a push from many indigenous communities, we see many modern movements to retain and revitalize indigenous languages. Through this conference we plan on touching on some of these movements and emphasize the importance of language and how it continually shapes indigenous lives.