Urgency of Firebird Fellows' Projects

To study the oral literature of Tarao which is in the condition of extinction unless proper documentation is done. If proper documentation is not done at the right earnest then the history may (be) lost. The younger generation did not know their forefather history. Only the elders know the past history. So before the elder person who are interested in this field die we need to take and keep all the records of our past history.
C.D. Aimol

 

.....there is no written documentation of the traditional knowledge, existing knowledge is in threat of dying with the elder generation. Local ways of knowing are also under threat as increasing numbers of villagers in the foothills have converted to Christianity and their children attend government run school or missionary schools. There is also an incursion of Hindu temples built by the recent migrants from India's mainland (government officials, teachers and army personnels) further undermining the local cultures.
Ambika Aiyadurai

 

These external agencies have drastically changed the people's attitude towards natural elements like rivers, forests, rocks and animals, they once worshipped. Soon Mudugar will lose their tribalness and be part of the mainstream system, adopting new socio-economic linguisticecological phenomenon. Before they entirely become "main-streamed," the existing lifestyle, the memories of the people and their language which could be fast forgotten, need to be documented.
Rayson Alex

 

...there is a large contingent of people within the Salasaca community who fear that the loss of their dialect (which they view as being imminent) will mean the loss of a large part of their Salasacan identity. Many of these individuals are also those who have resisted the national campaign for Unified Quichua, and are trying to utilize local radio, politics, and charter schools to revalorize and revitalize their own dialect. One Salasaca Quichua speaker says ‘Salasacans do not speak grammatically correct if Unified Quichua is the standard.
Mary Antonia Andronis

 

The Faihriem language has never been documented, and is now spoken by less than 300 families inhabiting about a dozen villages spread over south Cachar, North Cchar Hills and Mizoram. The present speakers speak the language only at home and among the speakers circle. While the children understand and can speak the language with their parents and elders, they are exposed to other major languages like Hmar, Mizo, Bengali, Hindi and English outside home. The medium of instruction in schools are different languages and there is no scope for further improvement of their spoken language. Such situation can only mean that the language will soon be discontinued as a means of communication and will be forgotten.
Vanlal Bapui

 

From having the language recorded and studied, it gained prestige, especially among the younger members of Matukar, who then seemed to be trying to speak the language more. However, the urgency remains to record and translate stories from the oldest speakers of the language, before we lose this possibility.
Danielle Barth

 

...there are plans to build a dam on the Yalong River, which will require the relocation of the Minyag community in Nyagrong County. This relocation will have consequences for the transmission of the oral traditions and will greatly hinder the documentation of geo-cultural knowledge.
Bkra shis bzang po

 

The Ju|'hoan San people, formerly called !Kung in anthropological literature, are perhaps the best-studied indigenous group in all anthropology. Yet until recently, texts of their actual utterances, and of their stories, curing chants, songs, political rhetoric, etc, have been unavailable. Ju|'hoan is the first language of 17,000 former foragers in NE Namibia and adjacent NW Botswana, but its future is threatened. ...In Botswana, with 4000 speakers, Ju|'hoan is even less esteemed by children because schooling is only offered in Setswana and English.
Megan Biesele

 

While oral traditions continue to be created, re-created and performed in many parts of Zambia, it is also clear that time has a way of altering the content and context of these ancient verbal arts. We will be capturing what is available now and be able to compart it to what was collected in early years. Even if the traditions remain vital, it is also clear that certain artists bring their own talents and visions to their performances and these are certainly lost when performers are no longer with us....Collecting and studying oral traditions is not as common a priority as it was in the years following the independence era of African nations. The reification of heritage in the process of nation building clearly addressed the damage done by centuries of Europe denigrating or attempting to erase the African cultural and historical past. More recently, scarce funds are not as often allocated to cutlural preservation or research of these arts. One of this project's goals is to emphasize the ongoing significance of living arts in understanding their contemporary relevance.
Robert Cancel

 

Though Moroccans of every age, class and gender can recognize and/or recite lines of malhoun, no studies yet exist in English of this disappearing art form. ....it is quickly becoming a thing of the past as young people look to other musical expressions in an age of globalization.
Melanie Clouser

 

West Sumatra is home to many types of performed oral literature, all now under threat from the changing lifestyles of globalisation...Some genres..have only one or two performers still alive...The south coast region of West Sumatra is on the cusp of dramatic environmental change and oral literatures and ecological knowledge are under threat from lifestyle changes caused by rapid economic development. Large amounts of land in the coastal Pesisir Selatan region...has recently been converted for palm oil production with three crude palm oil factories having been built in 2011 and two more planned for construction in 2013.
Megan Collins

 

Religion narratives of the local people in Xinjiang, particularly of the Uyghur people, are threatened. The Uyghur culture, now in need of protection, has evolved over two thousand-years, mostly as a result of its geographical location. The confluence of widely varying geographical, historical, and religious factors and the importance of the historic Silk Roads, which ran through present-day Xinjiang and which tied East and West, have left their mark on the region and its people. .....many of their long practiced traditions are now threatened by the Chinese state that looks at the rituals and the traditions as superstitious. It is also threatened by development and globalization that have reoriented the communities' focus from the religious to the secular. A number of our oral traditions are quickly disappearing. A loss of culture and tradition affects more than the immediate community of believers. In order to ensure the survival of old tradition and practices it is important, therefore, to record as quickly as possible the practices, narratives, and rituals which are still performed at the mazars and among women Sufi communities. This record, then, can be used by both local and foreign researchers and can also be used for educational purposes. [We should bear in mind that to date there has been no research on Uyghur Sufi women. Their voice has not yet been heard. Therefore, in addition to the record that I will provide of Sufi practices at the mazars, my work will be the first to record and analyze Sufi women's religious practices].
Rahile Dawut

 

Since these unique materials have not been recorded, they are highly endangered. Local elders are the only ones who know these materials and once they die, then the materials will disappear completely.
Caihua Dorji

 

There were, in the past, moments when every Tibetan child such as me sat with their grandparents, and enjoyed their eloquently-told stories that were varied in category, learned riddles that racked our brains, listened to their moral-lesson-proverbs...that taught us compassion and selflessness. Proverbs taught us the reality of our world, lullabies soothed us to sleep, songs taught us about social classes and justice, mountain deity accounts taught us about power and wealth, and jokes made us laugh. This was a timeless, Tibetan education teaching a time-honored moral code and a unique perspective on the world. However now, what has just been dscribed is rapidly waning in the face of modernity. For instance, three old women (in 60) in my village were able to tell only two stories each when I asked to record their stories. The reason is that they did not have the chance to pass them down to their grandchildren since the children are not interested in stories; rather, they like to watch TV shows in Chinese. My elder sister in her forties cannot remember any complete stories. At one time, she knew many that she had learned from our grandmother...‘When no one listens, no one tells, and when no one tells, no one learns; and thus when the elders die, so do the traditions.' This phrase sadly captures the state of Tibetan oral traditions and folklore today. From time immemorial, Tibetans transferred history, moral values, and an incredibly diverse store of local knowledge to younger generations through the spoken word. Each year sees the passing of precious aged people...Unfortunately, Tibetan scholars do not study these folk materials that are truly the backbone of Tibetan culture because 1) there is a lack of social science related courses in China that they have access to, consequently they do not understand their value; 2) the dominance in value that Buddhistic philosophy enjoys so that an elder monk would teach the Buddhist Dharma rather than telling him a story, which is regarded as waste of time; and 3) anything smacking of modern technology appears to be more realistic and attractive than storytelling. These factors combine in a lack of materials on this particular subject.
Pohua Dondrup

 

The rapid modernization of the area in the last two decade is altering centuries long local traditions and the cultural and physical landscape. The government is spending millions of yuan to ‘develop' local areas and implementing policies to promote the living standard of local people. As a result, many people are exposed to the modern world through TV, radio, DVDs, and the internet. Many locals are losing a sense of cultural identity and history. The old traditional life style is rapidly being replaced by an urban lifestyle and mindset, especially among the younger generations. This is readily apparent in the way younger generations dress, electronic devices they own, and their daily topics of conversation. Global popular culture is dominating the interior and exterior worlds of those exposed to the modern world.

 

Historically, local traditions have been passed from generation to generation. However, this is no longer the case. It is now rare to see and hear traditional songs, especially among the younger generation because people are devotees of TV, the internet, DVD offerings and MP3 players; it is almost impossible to find traditional songs in digital forms these days. The unavailability of traditional songs will continue to limit the younger generation's knowledge of tradition and continued to maintain their interest in popular Chinese and global culture. The number of heritage bearers who possess the traditional songs, folklore, and knowledge of craft production is dramatically decreasing. Most elders are illiterate and unfamiliar with technology, and there is no way for them to preserve the knowledge they possess by themselves. The urgency of this project is thus substantial - this project will positively address this issue.
Cairang Duojie

 

There is no documentation focused on languages-dialects and the way of the traditional native life and its cultures that are rapidly on the wane. No instruction in Tibetan is offered in these local areas. Furthermore, students have been concentrated in township center schools where they must speak the Chinese language, not their mother tongues. Traditional songs are no longer actively sung but rather modern songs played on MP3 devices, cellphones, and so on. The Rong brag County Cultural Affairs Bureau records state that in 2011, ninety percent of Tibetans born after 1983 cannot sing traditional songs, give various speeches, and present relevant indigenous cultural information...Televisions, VCDs, and DVDs are increasingly popular in the villages. Many children and adults born after 1950 are television addicts. Their daily conversation includes Chinese sitcoms television and series, and movies; who are bad, who are good , and what did they do. Some faithful viewers imitate the way characters speak and act. Relevantly, the native heroes; characteristics are no longer remembered. Children use Chinese language when playing games, performing what they saw and heard on television and from movies. On the other hands, for local Tibetans all local jobs require a knowledge of Chinese. Additionally, there is no NGO operated in Rong brag County focused on cultural preservation. This all accelerates the loss of local languages and very little has been recorded.
G. yu ‘brug

 

While many people still speak Kagate in their daily life it is only older people who know the stories well. Speakers in their 50s are aware of the stories but do not know them well, so it is people of the eldest generation who will be the targets of our data collection. Songs may be harder to document and it will be a matter of visiting as many elderly speakers as possible to find songs traditionally sung in Kagate. Some traditional practices, such as local alcohol distillation, are still undertaken and will be easy to collect descriptions of, other practices such as papermaking are now no longer practiced and are only remembered by elderly people. Given that so much of the traditional literature is only recalled by the oldest generation of Yolmo speakers we consider this project to be urgent.
Lauren Gawne

 

Piil stories [mythological/historical stories used for cultural & moral transmission] are appreciated across the generations, however there are few people left who can perform piil. It is uncommon to hear a performer under the age of fifty performing piil. There is a very real concern that this and other oral traditions will be lost as the older people who are able to perform them pass away. There is currently a crisis in the transmission of this oral literature to the young people of Lihir, which is largely due to the very rapid change in lifestyle on the islands, resulting in very fast cultural transformation.....the (gold) mine has brought such development as roads, stores, and electricity to the islands, thus changing the way people use their leisure time. Television is now available in most homes, and this too has absorbed the people of Lihir. However, piil maintains its currency, and on a recent visit to the island group, a group of children chose to turn off their television to listen to an eminent performer of piil.
Kirsty Gillespie

 

There is much worth the serious anthropological and linguistic attention. As Hindi displaces more and more of the indigenes languages and Christianity sweeps through the villages, my work becomes not just important, but urgent as well. The under-described research situation in the East Kameng District, as well as the quickly-changing social and linguistic constitution of the area, makes an in-depth and systematic ethnographic research work all the more urgent.
Rebecca Gnuechtel

 

The oral literature which once occupied an important place in the preliterate Thadau society is fast dying out with the penetration of education, Christianity and development. Folktales and folk songs are not only a source of cultural knowledge of the preliterate Thadau society, but they are also a source of entertainment. The old tradition of children listening to the untold stories and melodic songs from the lips of their parents and grandparents are today replaced by modern forms of entertainment such as television and movies. Similarly, the different ritualistic ceremonies which were performed round the year for all types of agricultural activities have today been replaced by Christian prayers and rituals. Today, native priests who can recite such secret chants for various ritualistic purposes are extremely difficult to find...Today, only a handful of elderly people in villages remember traditional oral literature and that too, often with a great degree of vagueness and obscurity.
Pauthang Haokip

 

The nomadic life has ceased for most people in the North Badia, although some people still have herds of camels and other remnants of their former existence. Some people lament that certain aspects of that life are now gone, but many feel that sedentary life is a good thing, and they enjoy the comforts of modern living. The need to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the Jordanian Bedouins of the North and South Badias is quite urgent at this time, since these traditions are in danger of dying out with the older generation. Indeed, as discussed previously, some of these traditions are already gone.
Kathleen Hood

 

This project addresses the problem of cultural loss in Tibetan communities in Mangra (Guinan) County where people live in clusters, engaged in agriculture, herding, and agropastoralism. Their daily lives are permeated with folklore, which differ from one community to another. The death and sad cultural loss of these living treasures is accelerating as local Tibetans increasingly establish contact with radio, television, DVD/VCD players introduced as part of government efforts to improve roads and bring electricity to countryside areas. The net result of this over time has been the loss of cultural transmission from older to younger generations. The latter find the traditional store of folklore lacking when compared to what they see on television and video recordings. The net result of this is teenagers being thoroughly unfamiliar with their parents' and grandparents' store of folklore. For example, many herders have been resettled in communities where electricity is provided and the loss of precious folklore known to the cultural bearers is not repeated because younger people and children much prefer modern music that is easily available to them.
Niang Jijia

 

Nowadays, under the influences of new technology, globalization, and national standardized education, Lavrung is facing extinction. The region's entire schooling system from primary to university and the media (Internet, television, newspaper...)are in Modern Standard Chinese with optional Tibetan subjects in a few schools. Sichuan Chinese or Amdo Tibetan are the local lingua franca, which means Lavrung is only spoken in the villages. The rapid growth of resettlement and intermarriage with other communities is causing a language switch. Only older people who were born before 1945 are monolingual in Lavrung whereas the rest are either bilingual or trilingual in Lavrung, Tibetan and Chinese. Many young people born after 1990 who have participated in nine years of compulsory education are unable to express themselves solely in Lavrung, and use many words and expressions from Chinese. People are now increasingly unwilling to speak Lavrung because they see no benefit using the language. All these lead to a bigger extinction, that the Lavrung culture.
Yina Jody

 

...the language policy in Kenya mandates the national languages Kiswahili and English are taught in schools and are the languages of instruction and therefore the younger generation is slowly but surely preferring these two languages to Ekegusii.

 

The fact that younger members of these communities have adopted the Kiswahili or English as their preferred languages daily conversations is making it increasingly impossible for the elders to use oral traditions like storytelling, poetry narrations and proverbs in transmitting the cultural heritage of the community to the younger ones. There is thus an urgent need to undertake a study to document and record these narratives before they disappear. This kind of documentation will enable the protection of not only the cultural heritage but also the indigenous knowledge of this community. This indigenous knowledge can be useful in addressing local developmental needs.
Herman Kiriama

 

Tattooing is perhaps the most endangered of the Dayak's cultural practices. Today, traces of the once ubiquitous art form are typically seen on the bodies of elders, many of whom are between seventy and one-hundred years of age. Missionization, the cessation of tribal warfare and headhunting, Western medicine, and the adoption fo Euro-Western dress and less permanent forms of body decoration have all contributed to the decline of this once important custom that was intimately connected to indigenous concepts of fertility, rites of passage, social status, mythology, traditional medicine, spirituality, religion, among other indigenous institutions.
Lars Krutak

 

My grandmother attended the Catholic residential school system and was encouraged not to speak Saulteaux (first Nations Language) and only to speak English. My mother can understand the language but never spoke it to us and I can only understand a few words. I am saddened that my son may never hear our language and I have taken it upon myself, my family and my community to build a language revitalization strategy....My great aunts are the only speakers of Saulteaux left in our family and they are all in their 70s and 80s. I would like the opportunity to document their stories, songs, poems, narratives, life stories, etc. in Saulteaux.
Jennifer Leason

 

In the delta of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, the mangrove lagoons called the Murik Lakes are being inundated by rising sea-levels. It is possible that they will disappear at some point in the near future. The Murik people living on the narrow barrier beaches that divide these lagoons from the Pacific Ocean already face the daunting prospect of resettlement to dry land. With the submergence of the lakes, the vast oral literature not just about this vulnerable environment, but about the cultural identity of the people, will also be inundated.
David Lipset

 

In the era of Globalization, the shifting from a local, traditional language to rising global languages is a phenomenon common to many parts of the world and Tagin is no exception to it. Tagin speakers are shifting toward major languages like Hindi and English. Tagin children and young adults who have been growing up even in small towns speak fluent English and Hindi, but they cannot speak Tagin without great hiccups. Many have just passive knowledge only. When a foreign or major language invades on a minority language those groups eventually get destroyed. When a person changes his primary language, or even his culture, he automatically changes his pattern of viewing the world. Hence his needs change. His old way of life disappears. Hinton (2001) observes that as a language loses speakers, knowledge accumulated by its associated traditional culture and literatures are also diminished. Stories, histories, knowledge and traditional practices are in danger of dying with the death of the language. Language not only helps us to perceive the environment, but it informs the unique culture of the group, rooted in various aspects of its past. Language is a part of culture and identity. And at the same time a whole culture is enshrined in or built into language. Once an ethnic group loses its own language their culture and sui generis identity starts getting blurred slowly and steadily. Hence, the purpose of this project is to document the indigenous oral literature of the Tagin in the form of folk tales, folk songs, proverbs, etc. which seem to be fading away steadily with the language.
Kepor Mara

 

The urgency is for the simple reason that the new generation of the Kanjjars does not require to speak the secret language as they are no more involved in the criminal activities - with the development the new generation has switched to respectable jobs to earn their livelihood. Its use is limited to the elderly people only. The community has given up their nomadic lifestyle and permanently settled in the urban cities where with the contact with other communities they have ceased to use their secret language. Instead they use the Hindi language that is widely used in urban cities. Moreover the medium of the modern education system is the standard Hindi Language. To imitate as civilized the new generation speaks Hindi. The use of secret language is only limited to the Kanjjar community whose population is scanty in the country, thus it is endangered and will be lost very soon within few decades.
Madan Meena

 

The most recent assessment of vitality of the Ashéninka Perené language indicates that the language is on the path to moribundity (Mihas 2010: 25-26). It has an exceedingly slim prospect of surviving in the future, making urgent the task of writing down its oral literature. The contributing factors are the small size of the speaker base, the intergenerational transmission break, limited domains of language use, and ambivalent speakers' attitudes. First, only about 300 speakers use the language as a means of daily communication; the youngest are in their late 40s.....Spanish is used by local speakers in nearly all domains; school, government, economic activities, and church. Crucially, the language has ceased to be used at home by the parental generation. As the result, Ashaninka children are Spanish monolinguals. Ashéninka Perené belongs to the definitively endangered language type, matching the profile described by Krauss: "the language has passed the crucial basic threshold of viability, is no longer being learned as mother tongue by children in the home [...] the younger speakers are of the parental generation." (2007:5).

 

Due to the precarious erosion of the speakers' base, the vitality of oral literary traditions has declined. Traditional story-telling is falling into disuse because of an accelerated shift to Spanish. The declining oral performances are also linked to the Adventist spiritual restrictions prohibiting some forms of entertainment....
Elena Mihas

 

The rich and complex Mongghul oral literature is in great danger with modernization and mass media pouring into local communities. People estimate that Mongghul language will be nearly completely replaced by Chinese in the researchers' village within the next two decades. The current labour migration trends in China are very significant in leading to cultural loss and assimilation. This project strives to preserve, before it is too late, the oral literature with local Mongghul (many of whom are illiterate) who are elderly and the last bearers fo Mongghul heritage. Time is of the essence, as these elders rapidly pass away.
Ha Mingzong

 

In the education system of Arunachal Pradesh today, it is more important to know who built the Taj Mahal than to know the name of the river that flows behind your village. Every school curriculum is designed based on "major" Indian cultures. Children are forced to learn more about the past glories of Indian histories than their own. All these policies come under the banner of national integration, which is particularly designed for tribal areas like Arunachal Pradesh. At present the growing proportion of Hindi speakers is alarming to those concerned about number of tribal languages in the state. Hindi being the first official language of the union of India has evolved to become a lingua franca among the tribals of this area (Y. Modi 2005). Nearly all the schools in Arunachal Pradesh including the Milang area have Hindi medium of instruction. As a result today many tribal Arunachalees including Milang speak Hindi as their first language. Apart from this there are various other factors such as religion which are converging to threaten not only the languages but also the cultures of this area. For example, religious missionary schools are springing up to replace poor government education, and strictly refuse to allow indigenous culture to be represented in these schools.
Yankee Modi

 

Many people consider themselves Êðê ethnically but do not know how to speak Êðê, let alone read or write their language. Êðê people live with other minority groups and with the majority of Vietnamese people even in Daklak province where most Êðê people live. Êðê children do not have many chances to study Êðê unless they are selected to attend special schools in which Êðê is taught. Some of them speak Êðê at home. While some ceremonies in Êðê communities are still in the Êðê language, the only language understood by the vast majority of community members is Vietnamese. This is understandable because Êðê children learn Vietnamese at school and young adults, who leave their village for jobs or economics in bigger cities, adopt Vietnamese as their primary language.
Tam Nguyen

 

From the US-Vietnam war to the present, the hill communities of Vietnam have been subject to intense disruptive pressure from outside, of almost every imaginable kind. It is truly difficult to see any path for them from here that will preserve much of their distinctive cultures and literatures. But any such path will have to begin with documentation of the cultural inheritance of the present generation of elders. And if there is no path at the end of which future generations still learn and know their ancestral literature, if we can properly document some of it now they will at least have that.
Scott DeLancey, Professor of Linguistics; Eugene, OR

 

Now a days these (manuscripts containing oral literature) were kept by some people in our state. They only keep these manuscripts in their worshiping room and only worship along with other mythological & religious manuscripts. Many of these manuscripts have disappeared due to damage by insects, fungi and some are in the verge of disappearance.

 

So these, being the valuable property of the society should be preserved and circulated for the coming generation fo the society/community.
Prasant Muduli

 

...Arunchali societies are now undergoing rapid and profound sets of changes. Together with regional and national integration since the 1950s and 60s, Arunachal has seen increasing urbanization, immigration of non-tribal Indians, shifts in employment patters (from hillside cultivation to government desk jobs), large-scale conversions to "major" religions, and the meteoric rise of Hindi as a lingua franca. Many such changes are incompatible with traditions; for example, children raised in an urban area lack exposure to many aspects of traditional culture. Education in Hindi severaly limits opportunities to learn and practice traditional language. And adoption of often extreme forms of Christianity requires converts to cease and condemn many traditional practices, such as oral performances.

 

"Although endangerment status is difficult to assess in any technical sense due to an ongoing lack of adequate survey data, if current trends continue, there is virtually no doubt that several Arunachali languages will become moribund within the lifetime of a young adult of today (Post 2008b). Non-vernacular aspects of several languages, such as Galo Gongku Agom, are without question already moribund - being known to few speakers under the age of 50 - and will be almost certainly disappear completely within a small handful of decades. Although a certain number of folktales will likely persist in cultural memories, extinction of Gongku Agom in its contexts of use to be of the highest urgency.
Mark Post

 

Many beautiful aspects of Kui culture such as dance and son are almost abandoned. The community dormitories, around which many of the cultural institutions used to revolve are abolished as a mark of inferior culture. The traditional institutions of marriage and death too are quickly intruded by Oriya speaking Hindu culture and soon it will replace cornerstones of Kui culture. Apathy of Kui people, especially of the educated people towards the language and culture is the main cause of concern. In such a scenario a step to revisit, collect and preserve the Kui oral literature is an urgent step to be taken. Earlier, the better....time to..document maximum possible Kui oral literature in whatever form it exists before it is lost and denied to the next generation.
Anuja Pradhan

 

...Chamling still speak their language which they call by the name ‘rodung' but is use is decreasing. Except Balmata Village Development Committee (VCD) of Udaypur districts and Ratancha VDC of Khotang districts, children in other places do not learn Chamling as their first language because young parents do not speak the language and the elderly parents tend to use the language only when they do not want their children to know what they are talking about. The young generation tends to use Nepali more and their native tongue less, partly because their parents seldom speak Chamling at home and partly because the medium of instruction in school is Nepali and teacher are all Nepali native speakers. Thus, they have no choice but to learn and use Nepali. Chamling is, therefore dying a slow death.
Vishnu Rai

 

The urgency of this research cannot be overstated. There are currently no ethnographic studies of Khasi language use or social life, and both are undergoing rapid change in Bangladesh.
Matthew Rich

 

Mi nyag toponyms and emplaced narratives are currently highly endangered. The major threat is the construction of a dam on the Yarlong River which will inundate Mi nyag communities in the northern part of Bang smad Township. Villagers will be relocated within the next five years. Other Mi nyag communities in Bang smad Township have been relocated in a recent poverty-alleviation initiative..., resulting in the dislocation of communities from their traditional territory.

 

"Another factor which has resulted in the endangerment of Mi nyag toponyms and emplaced narratives is a ban on hunting imposed during the mid 1990s. This has resulted in a shrinking of the territory habitually utilized by Mi nyag villagers, as certain forested mountain territories were in the past only used for hunting. Along with the shrinking of this territory has been a loss of toponyms and emplaced narratives.

 

"A further factor resulting in the endangerment of these traditions is the local population's increased participation in migrant labor over the past thirty years (but particularly within the past 10 years). This has effectively resulted in the removal of the entire adult population of the region for the majority of the year (nine months), hence increasing villagers' alienation from their village territory."
Bkra shis bzang po

 

The EP (Eastern Penan) face a range of social problems: intensified logging, legal as well as illegal, in traditional forest habitats have transformed the environment to a mixture of secondary forest, plantations and wasteland. Only very few, perhaps around 100 individuals, maintain - as they best can - a traditional nomadic way of life, while the vast majority have settled as farmers, not always with great success. These dramatic changes have taken place during the past two generations with increasing intensity; and, with few exceptions, EP live in relative or absolute poverty. Adding to cultural attrition, the Malaysian authorities have launched a ‘modernization' campaign (of further settlement), while Evangelical Christian missionaries have been supplanting EP traditional belief systems since the colonial era. The current state of affairs, therefore, seems to pose a threat to the integrity of the EP ways of life, including their narrative tradition.
Rothstein/Sercombe

 

The Nungon people probably had their first contact with outsiders (missionaries) in the late 1920s. Still, even young adults can describe how people used to cut grass before the advent of machetes and to chop down trees using stone axes; most people can still demonstrate the old fire-starting method using twine, a stick, and a stone. But since the late 1990s, the Nungonspeaking areas have seen rapid cultural changes. Located in extremely rugged terrain at about 6,000 to 13,000 ft. in the Saruwaged Mountains, the Nungon people's traditional lands have become a regular destination for several conservation biology teams. In 2009, the Nungon area became part of an official "YUS Conservation Area."

 

The relatively sudden incursion of teams of outsiders into the Nungon region seems to have sparked rapid cultural change and departure from traditional language and culture....some Nungon speakers who work closely with foreigners choosing to speak with each other in Tok Pisin instead of their ancestral language. Likewise, young people in the community often choose to sing Tok Pisin songs they have learned from foreign teachers, or English songs from church, over traditional Nungon songs. Speakers seem to take the rich Nungon oral literature corpus for granted, finding it hard to imagine that it might one day be forgotten. But after ten years of rapid change and an exponential increase in outside contact, now is a crucial moment for recording and celebrating the Nungon song-writing and storytelling traditions.
Hannah Sarvasy

 

In Paluai, a number of specialized song genres exist which are highly threatened. Since they are only known to a handful of elderly people, fears that these genres will become extinct in the next few years are justified. These fears are currently being expressed by the Paluai speakers themselves who are aware of the fact that the song genres, and the special song language, are severely endangered. The genres make use of a special linguistic register, in which some vowels are systematically substituted and obsolete linguistic forms seem to have survived, and which is not known by younger speakers of the language. Collection, preservation, and translation of these songs are therefore highly relevant, both from a linguistic and a cultural point of view.
Dineke Schokkin

 

Folk tales and songs .....are currently still known to some degree by those below the age of 20, but their familiarity is decreasing. Various elder speakers can still be consulted. Secoya cosmology, shamanic rituals and chants. Due to the impact of SIL missionaries until the 1980s, the expertise in these areas has been hidden and our knowledge is extremely small.
Anne Schwarz

 

I would like to see as much as possible filmed as we are shifting rapidly into a new culture. It is mainly the elders who continue to practice the more difficult traditional work, i.e. hide tanning, making technological tools, and there are few elders who have the knowledge on how to make traditional canoes."

 

"The Tsilhqot'in language spoken in the community is now endangered. The net birth rate has increased the number of Band members; however, no new members speak the language. In the past decade the percentage of band members speaking Tsilhqot'in has decreased by 50%. All Elders speak the language and many are unilingual Tsilhqot'in speakers. The average age of speakers in the Tsilhqot'n community is now 50 years of age, and parents of young children do not speak the language in their home. Should this trend continue the language will be dead within one generation.
Linda Smith

 

Support of Ethnobotanical knowledge serves several important functions. For one, recognizing the importance of medicinal plants is a valuable step in preserving the ecosystems where they thrive. Secondly, creating small markets for sustainable forest crops can reduce the temptation to harvest timber or develop intact ecosystems. And thirdly, supporting ethnobotanical knowledge in native communities will help preserve traditional knowledge and culture, enhance the transfer of knowledge to younger generations, support tribal identity and maintain community cohesion, reducing the necessity to leave the community to earn a living wage. And one political note, the government is less likely to seize tribal land where westerners are engaged in joint projects and aware of indigenous rights.
Jillian Stansbury

 

The Kalinga Ullalim embodies the voices of the Kalinga ancestors and composed in a beautiful language that is getting lost. With the coming in of education the Kalinga language has adapted some borrowed terms and the original language might get lost if there are no interventions like preserving Kalinga Ullalim in its original form.

 

"The Kalinga Ullalim is chanted and sang in ballads by bards and its practice is now getting lost as the elders are slowly dying away. There are now but a few bards who are still living and recording the Ullalim will be a means of preserving and documenting an art that could vanish forever if the elders will die.
Natividad Sugguiyao

 

The urgency of this project cannot be overestimated, as we have been led to understand that the entire rainforest region surrounding these caves is slated for timber extraction by the provincial government. Our project has indeed been repeatedly sabotaged by villagers campaigning in behalf of Malaysian timber pirates, and we have spent innumerable hours conducting conservation awareness talks before beginning research in any of these villages. More recently we have been made aware of gold mine surveying at the edges of these communities' traditional land, as more aggressive and mineral rich neighbours from the highlands begin to push their claims beyond the legal limits. If our work is delayed by a few more years, we may have very little left to record. On the other hand, the more quickly we can publish our data, the better able our subject communities will be to resist illegal encroachment on time.
Nancy Sullivan

 

This project is urgent due to the rising influence of Catholic charismatic movement in the village. One of the movement's main objectives is to abandon everything that belongs to the past. Although the young leaders of the movement, when we visited the village in 2007 and again in 2008, somehow agreed that yamun siria ‘singing and dancing of a house' is harmless and can still be performed, it is our fear that it will soon fall into oblivion. The same pertains to customary myths, legends, and other oral accounts of the past.
Borut Telban

 

Most people familiar with the traditional folktales, poems and songs are over the age of 70 and live in more remote parts of the district. As such, it is an urgent matter to identify these people and to document such traditional knowledge before their passing.

 

The Sumi language is seen to be in a state of decline because of a number of factors, including the dominance of the English language as a medium of instruction in schools, the cultural dominance of Hindi and other languages on television and other major forms of media. The opportunity to read or write in the Sumi language for younger speakers is also limited because of the lack of documented materials in Sumi and the compulsion in schools and colleges to read and write in English and Hindi.

 

...In the face of modernization, many younger speakers' negative attitudes towards the language and culture are leading them to embrace foreign cultures, both from the West (particularly the USA) and also East Asia (particularly Korea). It is a matter of great urgency to document the oral traditions of the Sumi people to not only save the language from extinction but to restore a stronger sense of identity and cultural self-worth.
Amos Teo/Abokali Sumi

 

The extinction of languages and traditional lifestyles is perhaps the most dramatic consequence of globalization. It is expected that in the next century only 600 of the 6,000 languages spoken today still exist. Nations might not die out, but through assimilation their languages and habits disappear. The story of the Yukagir is a striking example of this global problem.....[it is] important to capture as much and as fast as we can, now when it is still possible.
Trommelen/Ode

 

There is a strong interdependency between agricultural production and local cosmovision in the reproduction of both food resources and indigenous identity in Andean agricultural communities....In the last decades, however, this interdependency has become increasingly eroded in the indigenous Quichua farming communities of Cotacachi, as the accretion of agricultural vulnerabilities has made agricultural livelihoods increasingly difficult to maintain. Alternatively, many former small farmers now engage in wage labor through circular migration to the neighboring cities of Otavalo and Ibarra, and to the nation's nearby capital, Quito, only 80 kilometers away. Among the many results of the increased participation in wage labor is the loss of traditional beliefs and practices as young people are increasingly exposed to conflicting nontraditional views, and further, as agriculture is increasingly displaced by other economic activities.

 

Recently, farmers in Cotacachi have begun to report a new agricultural vulnerability: climate change. As Cotacachi's farmers overwhelmingly attribute reduced agricultural yields during the last decade to problems occasioned by warmer weather, irregular rainfall and diminishing mountain runoff, a smaller number of them explain the occurrence of climate change as resulting from the loss of traditional beliefs and practices....Given that Andean culture is transmitted orally, the decreasingly held traditional beliefs that have historically guided agricultural production in Cotacachi are at risk of being lost if not documented.

 

The urgency of the proposed research rests on the fact that not only has increased migration contributed to the erosion and loss of traditional beliefs and practices in general, but the effects of climate change in Cotacachi are contributing to the erosion and loss of some of the very earth forms and natural processes upon which said beliefs and practices were built and perpetuated through practical knowledge.

 

Finally, adding to the urgency of the proposed research is the very interdependency between agricultural production and local cosmovision in the reproduction of indigenous identity, the significance of which in relation to climate change became acute for me during a recent trip to the area in November of 2009....I learned that the effects of climate change on agricultural production are creating confusion about climate that is affecting the agricultural calendar, and consequently, the indigenous cosmovision and life way to which it is tied. As one indigenous leader explained: ‘there is a disorder, a disorganization, a confusion about climate in relation to when to plant and when to harvest, the effects being greater poverty and malnutrition because there isn't food: maize, beans, favas, peas, potatoes, wheat, barley, lentils.....Without maize, culture is lost.
Kristin VanderMolen

 

I worked for two years in Bangladesh on water management issues including coastal erosion and sea level rise and this body of knowledge on how communities survive such threats needs to be documented and recorded.
Elizabeth Wickett

 

Ersu does not have a written tradition. It is an oral language that has been passed on for generations. It is listed as one of the most endangered languages in China.
Sihong Zhang

 

All this will last only in history books......or nowhere after 10 years
This is NOT what we wanted........
This is what the world around us pushed us to.......
I came to Bay Path with a mission.
A mission to find the best way to KEEP our culture....
Develop economically without severing ties to our past
Instead of being constantly subjected to outside economic FORCES.....
We can decide our OWN future.
You will see us all over the WORLD
Dawa Drolma: from video produced for Bay Path College

 

...there are a few old people in the age group of 70-80 years (not many persons are able to live [to] old–age) who are well-versed in folk-song, folk-tale etc. Oral traditions like story-telling and singing of folk-songs are on the wane. It is [of the] utmost urgen[cy] to document the oral traditions of the Monsang, and start revitalization programs.
Koninglee Wanglar

 

Since the stories of the songs are not recorded [un]til now and they are protected only on the memory of some people, they urgently should be recorded. Since the people who have this memory are especially old ones, we have to move urgently before the death of this people. On the other hand, the culture is common mainly in rural areas but people are tend[ing] to move [to] the cities. So, if they move to the cities, most probably the big part of this memory will be lost.
Serhat R. Çaçan.

 

Perhaps the most drastic impact of all is on the story-telling (hikaye). This is being simply lost as the dominance of television in rural life removes any need to create one's own entertainment in the evenings. Yet the richness of this great variety of story-telling is still remembered clearly, at least in conversation, and the last generation who witnessed such evenings are still alive.
David Shankland

 

The reason for the urgency of the project is the expansion of education and modernization. The Me'init, like many ethnic societies of southwest Ethiopia, are obliged to learn by the main language of the country, Amharic and in English. As a result, [the] majority of the Me'init's young generation does not pay much attention to their oral literature, language, folk culture and traditional ecological knowledge. On the other hand, the older generation who knows the folk culture, the oral tradition and the traditional ecological knowledge is rapidly passing away. Once this generation is lost, the Me'init will totally lose its oral literature, folk culture and traditional ecological knowledge.
Dessalegn Gebeyehu

 

The state of endangerment of Kooki oral traditions stems from the dominance of Buganda from the 16th century and the widespread use of Luganda and Runyankole languages among the Bakooki. Particularly for Luganda, it became the language of instruction in schools and in religious circles in Kooki right from the colonial period. At present, many Bakooki children speak more Luganda than Lukooki because of the historical events narrated above. This has therefore greatly affected the transfer of oral traditions from one generation to another. On the whole, the degree of endangerment of Lukooki language and culture is so high. It means that the young ones cannot be exposed to these norms and language efficiently the language is rarely used by the old generation. This state of affairs has been realized by the Kooki cultural leadership and the Kamuswaga recently urged all his subjects to be proud of their culture and mother tongue (Lukooki) by speaking it in their homes, public places and everywhere in the Kooki chiefdom.
Kizza Mukasa Jackson

 

Development initiatives in the agricultural and infrastructure sectors including industrialscale sugar plantations and construction of the Gibe III Dam threaten rapid acceleration of the cultural erosion that has already begun to take place. These projects bring an increasing number of highland Ethiopians into the region in the form of investors, soldiers, teachers, and others in search of jobs, with the inevitable effect of the decay of Nyangatom cultural institutions.

 

The Nyangatom are a nomadic society with no traditional written language. They practice no other form of art in which to leave a record of their traditions. These songs are the chronicle of their folk ecological knowledge and associated ritual, and they have not been documented. Though most songs of the animals remain common knowledge among all ages and genders, only the most aged great-grandmothers know the songs of the plants. Most of these have already been lost. "I am old," I was often told in response to my request for the song of a given plant, "I have no throat [voice]." The animals depicted in these songs are themselves threatened: many are no longer present in Nyangatom country, or present only sparsely in its furthest reaches. Once the species itself has disappeared, the nexus of cultural meaning woven around it is fated to follow, and soon. This project represents a rare opportunity to preserve these songs while they are still an expression of a traditional people's immediate experience of their environment rather than the vaguely remembered secondhand lore of a generation dispossessed of its land and customs.
Hannah Binzen-Lincoln

 

The Baganda believe that a sacred place is where spirits are present....man has gone ahead to destroy these places...BIDCO, a foreign company went to Ssese islands (from where most of the traditional spirits of the Baganda are believed to have originated) and cleared a big chunk of the forest to plant palm trees. Although they were told by the indigenous people that that particular area was sacred, they ignored the traditional beliefs, values and practices of the local people and went ahead to clear the place. Whenever the bulldozers and the tractors reached this grove, the machine engines would fail until the drivers decided to bypass it and left it intact. This is one of the clear examples of sacred areas which are greatly threatened and endangered by man. There are numerous places in Uganda which have been cleared by man to carry out farming or because of the influence of the new religion. Hence, there is need to document and have a record of these areas before they all disappear.
Grace Nakalule

 

...the remaining Laikipia Maasai elders who are the custodian of traditional ecological and cultural knowledge are hardly 70 and every year the communities lose about 5-7 of them depending on the season of the year...the elders have been affected by recurrent droughts related to changing climatic conditions that continue to decimate people and their livestock. The elders are undergoing serious stress related to the original Maasai territories that is no longer accessible to the Maasai people. The Maasai traditional ecological and cultural knowledge is being negatively affected day by day by new emerging knowledge regimes that are forcing [the] replac[ing of] the former. The original Maasai name places are being corrupted to [the] level that one cannot tell the actual places and their future of Maasai children who go to school are losing their language and learning different names and cultures that will confuse them in future thus threatening the future heritage of the Maasai.
Johnson Mali Ole Kaunga

 

Due to the increment in death rate, especially because of the lack of adequate care for the elders in this part of the world, it is advisable to undertake this kind of project whose materials are expected to be sourced from female elders of the Oje kindred in Ibadan, Nigeria as fast as possible; else its delay may lead to the collection of diluted oral literature which may be given in the future by their successors, who may have little or no knowledge of them.
Ayo Bakare

 

Today, the Selva Lacandona is under grave threat and so is the Lacandones' traditional knowledge of it and their relationship to it. Chan K'in Viejo [spiritual leader] saw a future devoid of the hach winik ‘True People'. And he was no idle prophet: today, all of the Lacandones, save one, have renounced their religion and shelved the god pots, portals of communication between the Lacandones and their gods. There is a threat to the knowledge of the traditional forms of discourse, i.e. songs, chants, narratives, and ritual formulae. These forms of expression are rarely if ever used because the ritual and social contexts in which they would be used are no longer present.
Suzanne Cook

 

Mey is an endangered language. The level of endangerment is influenced by the fact that the community is less numerous than the neighbouring Tshangla-speaking Monpa. In the largest Mey village, Rupa, the Mey make up less than one half of the total population presently. Chugpa and Lishpa, the languages (or dialects) presumably closely related to Mey, are spoken in one and three villages respectively. The villages are situated within the Monpa area, and a certain degree of assimilation by the dominant population is suggested by the common names for the groups ‘Chug Monpa' and ‘Lish Monpa'.

 

External cultural influences may, as documented, cause the destruction of the tradition of oral literature within the lifespan of one or two generations. For an item of oral literature, the end of existence in the human memory means the irretrievable loss.
Maxsim Chistotin

 

The language and culture of this indigenous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is on the verge of extinction due to lack of its preservation and promotion. As mentioned above [the] acculturation process of neighbouring Buddhist tribe tremendously goes on.
Haobijam Vokendro

 

The number of speakers [of Sajolang] could be less than 6,000 today. Due to the influence of Hindi and English, it is very possible that the number of speakers will dwindle precariously low within 3-5 generations because some already learn Sajolang as a second or heritage language. Getting involved with community members can help them see this threat and develop a sense of pride in their language. It is also possible that this research will help establish a maintenance program over the long-term to avoid language loss. Blench & Post (2011:11) also draw attention to the need for research stating that "these languages are presently still spoken, their populations are small, and pressure to switch to Hindi [...] is growing".
Chris Weedall

 

Inpui is a language which is spoken by very few (about hundred) Inpui people like the other endangered languages Khoibu, Zeme, Kharam, etc. Though the language of Inpui is included among the thirty-three officially recorded languages in Manipur, the status of Inpui is highly endangered in terms of their social domains as well as in ethnographic linguistic perspectives.

 

The language, culture and ethnics of the indigenous Inpui people of Manipur are on the verge of extinction due to lack of its preservation, conservation, promotion and initiatives. The elders are using their language very sparingly so that it affects the younger generations in accepting the language. Instead of taking initiative to learn their language, the younger are fashionably opting other major languages which benefits them to get job[s] and other opportunities. It leads to gradual decline in the use of native language in every aspect. As a result, the extinction of a large oral treasure is forcibly foretold.
Lourembam Surjit Singh

 

Regarding the scholarship of Mongolian music, there is not much literature available, whether in English or other foreign languages...I have no doubt that this research, together with the book and musical collections which will result from it, are both rare and original, and most of all I have no doubt that this work is urgent, given that those older singers, who are the only ones who know the rare melodies and stories, are not going to wait for us much longer.
Sunmin Yoon

 

...Kusunda are not linguistically related to any other language. The lifestyle of the Kusunda has been compared to the Chepang of the middle hills in Nepal, but there are considerable ethnographic differences between the two groups. In short, Kusunda represents a linguistic and cultural lineage that has no extant relatives anywhere. There are only two people who can speak the Kusunda language, only one of whom, Gyani Maiya, grew up in a traditional setting. Since she is (as of 2013) 76 years old, the project is of the highest urgency. This year a third individual in his 50s, with some knowledge of the language, has emerged, but we are yet to work with him linguistically, this project will facilitate interaction. If he turns out to be a viable speaker (even a partial speaker), then we will have a little more security in terms of speaker access.
Mark Donohue

 

...a large portion of Tibetan oral literature is disappearing due to a large influx of outside influences...According to local Tibetan scholars and Rebgong residents, tamshed and folk songs are the fastest disappearing and most vulnerable forms of traditional oral culture in Rebgong and the adjoining county of Zekog (a nomad area). There are presently only ten to fifteen local knowledge bearers, who are all in [their] 60s and 70s. Transmission of this tradition to the younger generation is slight and diminishing.
Rinchenkhar

 

Eeigimaa folktales have not yet been documented...Many of the customs referred to in the tales are either fading away or abandoned altogether. This research will provide detailed counts of these customs and will also allow me to compile a list of lost words which either refer to lost cultural elements or were lost because loanwords referring to the same concepts are preferred.
Mamadou Bassene

 

 

 

Fellowship Announcement Application Guidelines Tributes