Documenting & Sustaining
Endangered Languages & Knowledge
Addressing the crisis confronting the world’s languages and cultural knowledge requires the collaboration of communities, research institutions and other organizations. Recovering Voices aims to support speakers of endangered languages and cultural practitioners who seek support for their efforts to save their languages and knowledge systems.
Drawing upon the Smithsonian’s scholarly expertise, comprehensive collections, and public outreach capacity, Recovering Voices (RV) has worked since 2009 to develop strategies to conduct interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research to effectively collaborate with communities working to lessen language and knowledge loss.
Three principles direct collaboration:
- Collections-based methodologies for advancing research in language/knowledge studies
- Strengthening partnerships with communities,
- Engaging the public through access to speakers of endangered languages, cultural experts, researchers and collections.
Counteracting language and knowledge loss through an intentionally diverse mixture of scholars and with the focus on knowledge systems, RV marks a critical and holistic approach resulting in productive collaborations with communities and broad reaching public programs. In addition, advances in technology facilitate global communication and allow information about endangered languages and knowledge to be recorded, preserved, and shared much more efficiently than ever before.
Recovering Voices builds upon decades-long Smithsonian collaboration with Alaskan communities and the Anchorage Museum, coordinated by Aron Crowell, Director of the Museum’s Arctic Studies Center, as well as the Smithsonian’s other diverse community collaborations through the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the National Museum of the American Indian.
The late Peter Jack and Clarence Jackson, Tlingit advisors to the NMNH Arctic Studies Center study a Wolf crest clan hat at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center, 2005.
Videos like The Artistry and History of Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats highlight the community involvement and importance of Recovering Voices collaborations.
You can also visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Channel YouTube to view more videos.
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