Lenore A. Grenoble & Carl Chr. Olsen, Puju

An indigenous-driven project, the Arctic Indigenous Language Initiative is working to reverse language shift through active engagement and collaboration throughout the circumpolar region. The project is defined and determined by the Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council, who are working to collaborate with researchers, representatives from Arctic Indigenous organizations and Arctic governments, language activists, and policy makers. While the long-term goal is to achieve vitality and sustainability for Arctic indigenous languages, the first measures center around assessment in three key areas: (1) Arctic language policy; (2) language acquisition; and (3) language vitality. We discuss each of these three areas, including the creation of indigenously defined assessment metrics; the establishment of feedback mechanisms from the community, including community-based (peer) review of findings; and the role of academic linguists and community members.

Critically, we explore the mechanisms for creating policy changes at all levels, and the measures needed to turn the findings of the assessment teams into action to promote Arctic indigenous language vitality. We address the challenges of working across such broad geographic territories, spanning multiple national boundaries, and the challenges of working with so many stakeholders with such diverse interests.

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