This guide provides OC Library and web resources related to Indigenous languages as well as search strategies on this and related topics.
"Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person's unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory." 
IMPORTANT: the dominant structure for organizing information is from a western perspective, for this reason you may need to use outdated (sometimes offensive) terminology to find resources related to Indigenous peoples; please contact us if you'd like assistance navigating this.
Combine keywords related to the concept of Indigenous identity with keywords related to your area of interest.
"Indians of North America"
Name of Nation or Community (e.g. Secwépemc)
Specific language or dialect (e.g. nsyilxcn)
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (e.g. "language nest").
Use an asterisk to search for words with the same stem (e.g. linguist* retrieves linguist, linguists, linguistics).
Some Indigenous community websites will have information on language resources/revitalization efforts.
Terminology changes over time. You many need to search for alternative spellings of a word, for example: Sto:lo, Stó:lô, Staulo, Stahlo or you may need to search for alternate words, for example: Kwakiutl/Kwakwaka'wakw or Nootka/Nuu-chah-nulth
Subject headings are a tool designed to help researchers find similar materials. These are only some examples of the many subject headings that Okanagan College Library uses. Spend a few minutes exploring them when you find a book in the catalogue that supports your research.
Search by Subject Terms
Indigenous language loss
Indigenous language revitalization
Indigenous language preservation
Inuit language -- Semantics
Inuit language -- Grammar
Traveling to the community of his ancestors Eli Hirtle begins his language journey across Alberta.
[Criterion on-Demand, 172 min.] A small nomadic community is cursed by an unknown shaman. When Atanarjuat falls in love with a woman already promised to the son of the clan's leader, he has to fight for her. She is won by Atanarjuat and the leader plots to attack him in his sleep. Escaping, he sets off running across the ice, embarking on a harrowing adventure of survival in the brutal wilderness. He returns stronger and wiser to reclaim his life and stop the curse that has divided his people. (Inuktitut with English subtitles)
[Criterion on-Demand, 93 min.] Two Inuit families meet for a summertime celebration. Food is abundant and the future seems bright, but Ningiuq, a strong and wise old woman, cannot stop worrying. She sees her world as fragile and moves through it with a pervasive sense of dread. Ningiuq sets out with her grandson to a remote island, where they dry the catch and store it for winter. The task is finished and the warm season comes to an end, as they wait in vain for the others to pick them up. (Inuktitut with English subtitles)
[Global Oneness Project, 9 min 35 sec] This short documentary tells the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language, and the dictionary she created to keep her language alive.
The National Film Board of Canada has created and re-released Indigenous-language versions of select films from their Indigenous collection. The films in this playlist are offered in several Indigenous languages: Inuktitut, Nakota (Assiniboine), Kanien'ké:ha (Mohawk), Cree, and Atikamekw. They are also available in English.
[OC Streaming Video, 100 min.] Haida Gwaii, 1800's. At a seasonal fishing camp, two families endure conflict between the nobleman Adiits'ii and his best friend Kwa. After Adiits'ii causes the accidental death of Kwa's son, he flees into the rainforest, descending into madness. (Haida with English subtitles)
Many of the English translations of Indigenous languages that we commonly use today have been handed down from colonial missionaries whose intent was to fundamentally alter or destroy prior Indigenous knowledge and praxis. In this text, the author develops a theory of worldview that provides an interrelated logical mooring to shed light on the issues around translating Indigenous languages in and out of colonial languages.
Today, indigenous communities throughout North America are grappling with the dual issues of language loss and revitalization. This is an ethnographic study by Bernard C. Perley, a member of this First Nation, that examines the role of the Maliseet language and its survival in Maliseet identity processes.
At this critical time new technologies, such as visual and aural archiving, digitisation of textual resources, electronic mapping and social media, have the potential to play an integral role in language maintenance and revitalisation. The author also re-assesses more traditional techniques of documentation in light of new technologies and works towards achieving a practicable synthesis of old and new methodologies.
The Language of the Inuit maps the geographical distribution and linguistic differences between the Eskaleut and Inuit languages and dialects. Providing details about aspects of comparative phonology, grammar, and lexicon as well as Inuit prehistory and historical evolution, Dorais shows the effects of bilingualism, literacy, and formal education on Inuit language and considers its present status and future.
Place names convey a people's relationship to the land, their sense of place. For Indigenous peoples, place names can also help to revive endangered languages. This book takes readers on a voyage into the history, language, and culture of the Nooksack people of Washington State and British Columbia as it documents more than 150 places named by elders and mentioned in key historical texts.
In this book of Native American language research and oral traditions, linguist John Lyon collects Salish stories as told by culture-bearer Lottie Lindley, one of the last Okanagan elders whose formative years of language learning were unbroken by the colonizing influence of English. This book contributes to the preservation, presentation, and--with hope--maintenance and cultivation of a vital Indigenous language and the cultural traditions of the Interior Salish peoples.
This book serves as a general reference guide to language revitalization, not only for linguists and anthropologists, but also for language activists and community members who believe they should ensure the future use of their languages, despite their predicted loss.
Spanning Indigenous settings in Africa, the Americas, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Central Asia and the Nordic countries, this book examines the multifaceted language reclamation work underway by Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
McCarty, T. L., Nicholas, S. E., Chew, K. A. B., Diaz, N. G., Leonard, W. Y., & White, L. (2018). Hear our languages, hear our voices : Storywork as theory and praxis in Indigenous-language reclamation. Daedalus, 147(2), 160–172.
Chambers, N. A. (2015). Language nests as an emergent global phenomenon: Diverse approaches to program development and delivery. The International Journal of Holistic Early Learning and Development, 1, 25-38.
November 22, 2021, Episode 4: Reclaiming our Languages
The Aunties get schooled in Indigenous languages -- in more than one way. Elder Edna Wigwas and language enthusiast Christi Belcourt talk mother tongues.
April 21, 2020, Episode 27: Defenders of the Water School
Alayna Eagle Shield shares her work at the school and speaks to the importance of Indigenous languages and traditions, particularly the Lakota language, for her children and future generations.
October 10, 2019: Language Carries More Than Words
David Treuer is part of an ongoing project to document the grammar and usage of the Ojibwe language. The recovery of tribal languages and names is part of a fuller recovery of our national story — and the human story. And it holds unexpected observations altogether about language and meaning that most of us express unselfconsciously in our mother tongues.
An Australian Film Television and Radio School podcast. Join in the conversation between AFTRS Head of Indigenous Kyas Sherriff and novelist, historian, farmer and respected Elder Uncle Bruce Pascoe, as they share deep understandings on language, identity and connection to country.
Mission: to create new fluent N̓syilxčn̓ (Syilx, Salish, Okanagan, N̓səl̓xčin̓) speakers in the Syilx Nation, provide a safe learning environment, act with professionalism, lateral kindness, and reflect our deep sqilxʷ teachings.
The United Nations declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages in order to raise awareness of them, not only to benefit the people who speak these languages, but also for others to appreciate the important contribution they make to our world's rich cultural diversity.
An online space for Indigenous communities to share and promote language, oral culture and linguistic history. Language teams work with elders to curate and upload audio recordings, dictionaries, songs and stories.
This project aims to help raise awareness about the urgency of saving Native languages, and show a broad audience the richness and diversity of the many Indigenous cultures in what is now the United States of America.
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