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Cayuga language maintenance at Six Nations

Date: Friday February 1, 2019

Time: 11:30 am to 1:00 pm

Location: TSH 203

Guest Speaker: Dr. Carrie Dyck Carrie Dyck

Bio: Carrie Dyck is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She specializes in phonological theory, Iroquoian grammar, lexicography, and language documentation. She obtained her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1995, which explains her connection to Ontario. She has worked with Cayuga (Iroquoian) language speakers at Six Nations, Ontario since 1993, when Amos Key (Director, Language Program, Woodland Cultural Centre) invited her to work on a Cayuga dictionary project (published in 2002). Since then, she and Amos Key have collaborated on a SSHRC Aboriginal Research Pilot Project (2005-8) and SSHRC Community-University Research Alliance project (2010-16), to preserve and document the Cayuga language. Carrie is currently working on a reference grammar of Cayuga.

Abstract: Indigenous languages have arrived at a time of great peril and promise. In this talk, I will present an introduction to the topic of language endangerment, drawing examples from Cayuga, an Iroquoian language spoken at Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ontario. I begin by describing the breadth and depth of Indigenous knowledge encoded in Cayuga. I then discuss the historical context of language endangerment, drawing some parallels from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings (https://bit.ly/2taCEfq). Next, I describe the recent history of language revitalization efforts at Six Nations, and will point out similarities with efforts to preserve Cherokee (a related language; see “First Language: the race to save Cherokee”; https://youtu.be/e9y8fDOLsO4). I will conclude with some thoughts about how Cayuga can survive in a modern, bilingual context.