Ethical Issues in Indigenous Language Research and Interventions

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Chapter 8 in the book, Ethics in Applied Linguistics Research: Language Researcher Narratives.

In this chapter, we discuss the complex ethical considerations and dynamics in three grant-funded Indigenous language revitalization projects in Alaska, focusing primarily on intervention efforts aimed at Yup’ik-medium education and the professional and academic advancement of Native Alaskans through participation in graduate degree programs. The first project, Second Language Teacher Education (SLATE), graduated 3 Alaska Native Ph.D.s and 18 master’s students focusing on improving Yup’ik and English language instruction. The second, Piciryramta Elincungallra: Teaching Our Way of Life Through Our Language (PE), is a materials development and pedagogical intervention project focused on elementary school–level Yup’ik-medium education. The third project, Improving Alaska Native Education through Computer Assisted Language Learning (ANE CALL),has as its goals to build capacity and leadership within Native Alaskan communities by graduating 4 Alaska Native Ph.D. students and 15 M.A. students (10 focusing on Alaska Native languages and 5 focusing on teaching English language learners) and to improve and extend uses of technology in Alaskan schools. These projects are built on partnerships between university faculty, regional school districts, an Alaska Native nonprofit organization, and local communities. In addition to institutional issues, we trace the negotiations among project partners that attempt to represent the multivocality of this work describe the interwoven histories of academic research,colonialism, and relationships of historical oppression in these settings and discuss the intricacies of situating this work in and among educational institutions, which have historically acted as catalysts for language shift to English in Alaskan Indigenous communities. We focus particularly on the fact that these intervention projects involve,and impact, individuals and communities in complex and sometimes conflicting ways. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of trust and relationship building among project partners as the foundation of successful actions oriented toward building self-governance in Indigenous Alaskan communities.


Copyright (2016) Routledge.

Book chapter from: "Ethics in Applied Linguistics Research: Language Researcher Narratives." Edited by Peter I. Acosta.

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