Linguistics Program Director, Dr. Mizuki Miyashita, Awarded Special Conference Grant

group of participants in clpp

The University of Montana’s Linguistics Program Director, Dr. Mizuki Miyashita, has been awarded a special conference grant (BCS-2037470) by the National Science Foundation (NSF): Build and Broaden (B2): Enabling New Social, Behavioral and Economic Science Collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions. Dr. Miyashita’s project aims to expand participation in language research from under-represented institutions, specifically Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). The project “Build and Broaden: TCU Participation in Indigenous Language Science (B2),” beginning Spring 2021, will conduct conferences and workshops on language science with collaborating TCUs in Montana and their respective liaisons: Aaniiih Nakoda College (Dr. Sean Chandler), Blackfeet Community College (Iva Croff), Chief Dull Knife College (Richard Littlebear), Fort Peck Community College (Michael Turcotte), Salish Kootenai College (Melanie Sandoval; Aspen Decker), and Stone Child College (Helen Parker; Kaylene Big Knife).

The activities consist of (i) a national conference for language researchers and language workers from communities and academia, (ii) on-site workshops for TCU scholars, and (iii) a convening among researchers, community stakeholders and TCU scholars about language science. The project will provide training venues for TCU scholars to develop research skills in linguistics, language acquisition and related fields, and will lead to the designing of research projects in language science. Direct outcomes of this project will include research agendas developed by the Indigenous scholars and stakeholders, some of which will be carried out in collaboration with outside researchers. This approach promotes Community-Based Research (CBR), and the incorporation of the research results will contribute to the communities’ language revitalization efforts. The participants will also be introduced to technological tools in order to develop skills that can be applied to their research interests.

The B2 project liaisons include language researchers, activists, and teachers from TCUs in Montana, who are also active participants in the Collaborative Language Planning Project (CLPP), co-directed by Dr. Miyashita. The B2 project is an extended activity of CLPP; together, they aim to strengthen the environment for collaborative research in Indigenous languages in response to the Native American Languages Act (NALA), passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990. NALA called for stakeholders, including Native American activists, to act together to “preserve, protect and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice and develop” these languages.