When the seafarers of the Old World made their way to the New World, there were over 500 distinct Indigenous languages spoken by the peoples of what would be named North America. Today there are less than 160. To put this in perspective, when I first entered college, there were close to 2,000 speakers of Arapaho on the Wind River reservation; today there are less than 60.
Since 1993, when I convinced Disney Studios to release their copyright on "Bambi" so I could translate it into Arapaho, I have worked at developing strategies toward strengthening and sustaining Native languages, which led me to create Accelerated Second Language Acquisition (ASLA©™, see www.nsil.org ); Hinono’eitiino’oowu’ (Arapaho Language Lodge), an immersion school with a mission to prevent the extinction of the Arapaho language by passing it onto younger learners; and serve as its executive director in an effort to stem the rate of language loss. As a Native scholar, one of the features I offer language instructors is innovation and a different perspective on language acquisition, cognition, instruction, and education. One such innovation was featured by my Distinguished Lecture on “Wading into the Waters of Language, Culture and Reality,” that provided an overview of my work with Indigenous languages that are at risk of being lost to history, and my research to learn whether dolphins have the capacity to understand our language, and if so can this impact my work to save more Native languages. When asked why I do this work, I often refer to stories of those who when faced with multiple drownings, repeatedly go into the surf to save person after person until their own energy is expended. These things mentioned are what drive me and the reason why time after time I go back into the surf.
What Drives You to #AchieveMore?