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Native Languages of the Americas: How You Can Help

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Native Languages of the Americas is a Minnesota non-profit corporation (federal tax exempt status 501-C-3), dedicated to the preservation and promotion of endangered American Indian languages. We receive a heartening amount of email from people who would like to join our organization or want to know what they can do to help with Native American language preservation. We certainly do accept donations (click here for contribution details), but there are other, more important ways to help as well. Here is our list of thirteen ways you can support American Indian languages from your own home; please send us email if you'd like to work with us on one or more of these things!

1. IF YOU ARE INDIAN: Speak your language! Nothing you could do would be more valuable to the cause than this. Whether you are full or mixed blood, reservation or urban: learn it, speak some every day, teach it to your children.

2. IF YOU SPEAK AN INDIAN LANGUAGE FLUENTLY, OR HAVE A RELATIVE WHO DOES: Make audio recordings. Nothing helps young people to learn a language more than hearing the sounds and rhythm of the language from someone who knows it well. Even if your language is on the verge of dying out and none of the young people seem interested in learning it, if you record it for later generations, then young people in the future may come to realize its importance and you will have given them the tools to revive the language again. You can use any tape recorder or camcorder for this. If you record language samples as MP3's or some other computer audio format, we would love to link to them, or, if you don't have your own website, to put them up on the Native Languages of the Americas site. We are also looking into recording options here at our organization, where we may be able to record greetings, songs, stories, or anything else from native speakers over the telephone.

3. IF YOU CAN WRITE AN INDIAN LANGUAGE FLUENTLY: Create a website in your native language. This gives young people trying to learn the language something to use it for. It also gives important exposure to native languages that can help them in their struggle for survival. Finally, if our organization can collect enough websites in the proper format, the Open Directory Project has expressed interest in including them among other World Languages in their internet directory. If you are interested in creating a website for this project, please email us for the details about the kind of sites we are looking for. If you don't want to create a website of your own, consider helping us put together a picture dictionary, pronunciation guide, numbers page, or worksheet in your language for our website.

4. IF YOU CAN READ AN INDIAN LANGUAGE FLUENTLY: Join our editorial board to help us review, quality-check, and translate language materials. We do not speak all the languages featured on our website ourselves, and our work is greatly helped by native people and/or linguists who are willing to review pages in one or more Indian languages that are sent to us for publication. We also appreciate fluent readers who are willing to check language sites we have linked to for general accuracy and suggest improvements to our own pages. Occasionally, we need English translations of materials which none of our current members speaks well enough to translate (we also receive a lot of email requests for paid translation work, which we're happy to refer along to qualified native translators). And finally, one of our long-term goals is to add Indian-language messageboards or chatrooms to our site, for which we will need moderators familiar with each language. If you'd like us to consider you a resource for one or more of these projects, please email us for details.

5. IF YOU HAVE LINGUISTIC SKILLS: Provide native-language texts to the Internet. You don't need to be fluent in an Indian language to make them more available to language learners--you just need to have access to dictionaries, texts, tapes, native speakers, or a good library and be good enough with languages in general to transcribe and/or type words in a foreign language. If this sounds like something you'd be capable of and interested in, please contact us for details.

6. IF YOU HAVE COMPUTER SKILLS: Help us work on our directory pages. There are hundreds of Amerindian languages and it takes us many hours of work to prepare a page on each. We are all volunteers, and we always appreciate more help searching the Internet for good Indian-language sites to link to and checking the links on the pages we already have. If this sounds like something you'd be capable of and interested in, please contact us for details.

7. IF YOU ARE FLUENT IN FRENCH (OR ANOTHER NON-NATIVE LANGUAGE): Translate some of our site's pages into French. French is one of the official languages of Canada, and some Canadian First Nations speak French better than English, so we're interested in making French versions of some of our pages. We may be interested in translations of a few of our pages into other languages as well. If this sounds like something you'd be capable of and interested in, please email us for details.

8. IF YOU HAVE A WEBSITE: Link to us. Every link from another website to ours raises our visibility and helps inform more people about native languages. Even your blog might send a visitor or two our way. If you're not sure how to put a link on your page just send us email and we'll show you how. If you are Indian, please also consider linking to the homepage of your tribe--this helps raise American Indian visibility on the Internet in general.

9. IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION BUT NO WEBSITE: Submit an article about Indian language and culture and we may publish it. We review anything submitted to us before putting it up on our site, and we won't guarantee publication of anything, but we are always happy to host valuable language materials and original articles that meet our criteria. Vist our article submissions page for more information about our publication guidelines. Please don't include any attachments without sending us a query letter first, since attachments from unknown addresses are deleted unread for security purposes.

10. IF YOU HAVE MONEY: Make a contribution. Of course, as a nonprofit educational organization, we do gratefully accept donations. We are a 501-C-3 public charity, so if you pay US taxes, a donation to us is tax-exempt as well. If you would like to support our work, we can accept cash or checks made out to Native Languages of the Americas at this address:

Laura Redish, Director
Native Languages of the Americas
PO Box 385291
Minneapolis, MN 55438

or we can accept PayPal donations.

Contributions are used to purchase dictionaries, language learning books and other materials in American Indian languages; to purchase computer equipment for the organization; and to support our Internet projects.

11. IF YOU ARE GOOD AT ORGANIZING EVENTS: Have a fundraiser. Get your Culture Club or Girl Scout Troop involved, put up a booth at your county fair, or have a bake sale; donate the proceeds to us (Native Languages of the Americas, PO Box 130562, St. Paul MN 55113-0005) or to the Education Committee of your favorite tribe.

12. IF YOU ARE A TRIBAL MEMBER: Talk to your tribe's language program and ask how we can help them. If there is any way in which Internet technology or exposure can further a tribe or nation's language maintenance or language revival goals, it is our mission to provide it. Putting us in contact with any tribal program or language teacher who could benefit from our assistance would be greatly appreciated. Of course, we never charge teachers, tribes, or native people for our help.

Thank you for coming here. We hope you enjoy the site!

Laura Redish, Director
Orrin Lewis, Tribal Coordinator

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