Oct. 3 at Purdue University: Language Conservancy Director Wil Meya Presents Talk on Revitalizing Native American Languages


Wil Meya to Present Talk at Purdue on Revitalizing Native American Languages

October 3 talk with founder/director of The Language Conservancy, non-profit leading fight to save Native American languages

BLOOMINGTON, IN — Wilhelm Meya, co-founder & Executive Director of The Language Conservancy & Lakota Language Consortium, two leading non-profits for Native American Language revitalization, will present a talk on his organizations’ work on Tuesday, October 3 at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

The event was put together by History professor Dr. Victor Maqque for the Four Directions: Building a Foundation for Native Scholars, a new program designed to increase the visibility of Native American initiatives on campus. Co-hosts for the event include the Purdue Native American Educational and Cultural Center; Native American & Indigenous Studies Department; and the Indigenous and Endangered Languages Lab.

“We’re very excited about Wil Meya’s visit,” said Dr. Maqque. “We hope this will be the first in a series of collaborations with The Language Conservancy. Here at Purdue, there is an excellent group of Native American students and faculty deeply interested in working on language conservation and teaching. This is an extraordinary opportunity for us.”

In his presentation, Wil Meya will talk about the successes and challenges of what he calls a Native American Language Movement, and why this work matters.

Every five months, another Native American language is lost forever. Today, only 2% of Native Americans are fluent in their language, nearly all elders. Most languages have only a handful of speakers left. It is a crisis. And yet there is hope.

Since 2005, The Language Conservancy has worked with more than a dozen tribes to help save their languages, including Lakota, Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Cherokee, Mohegan, Omaha-Ponca, and more. TLC has demonstrated that Native American languages can be revitalized.

But the work canʻt be done only in the classroom. It takes long-term, comprehensive programs: documenting speakers in their communities; creating dictionaries and textbooks; producing phone apps and other digital learning tools; training teachers; organizing language institutes; doing year-round outreach and advocacy.

For more information about the talk (which will be free and open to the public), contact Dr. Victor Maqque at vmaqque@purdue.edu or (574) 252-1453.

About Wilhelm Meya

Wil Meya is co-founder and executive director of The Language Conservancy and its sister organization, the Lakota Language Consortium, and an internationally-recognized advocate for endangered languages, drawing upon more than 20 years of experience in higher education, linguistics, film production, and nonprofit management. Wil was also the executive producer of the award-winning documentary “Rising Voices.” He is the author of dozens of articles in the field of anthropology and linguistics, and recipient of numerous awards for scientific and societal achievement. Wil also consults on strategic planning and leadership for universities, corporations, and government agencies, and a frequent presenter at professional development events.

About The Language Conservancy

Founded in 2005 in Bloomington, IN, The Language Conservancy has become the nationʻs leading nonprofit working with Native American tribes across the U.S. to save and revitalize their endangered languages. TLC trains language teachers through Summer Language Institutes and year-round programs; publishes print and digital learning materials; and advocates for public awareness of language loss and recovery. TLC has worked with more than 200 schools and 30,000 thousand students representing 15 tribes, including Lakota, Dakota, Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Maskoke, Acoma, Cherokee, Mohegan, Omaha, Ho-Chunk and others. TLC also produced and distributes award-wining advocacy campaigns and media, including Rising Voices, an award-winning film about The Lakota Siouxʻs efforts to save their language, and the Lakota Berenstein Bears.

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