by Brian McDermott
PM206 .H43 2014
New Arrivals, 2nd Floor
International Mother Language Day is February 21, just a week and a half away. This special day was proclaimed by UNESCO in November 1999, and has been observed every February since then in order to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.
Multilingualism and other language issues are critical topics with global and local implications. Heenetiineyoo3eihiiho’ (Language Healers) is a new documentary about the importance of saving the remaining 139 Native American languages. Of these languages, according to UNESCO, more than half are at risk of going extinct in the next ten years. What can be done about this? The DVD is composed of several stirring parts dedicated to different Native languages, including Arapaho, Tlingit, Yuchi, and Yup’ik, and the hard working people who are trying to heal and save them right now. One part is also devoted to an indigenous language incident that began right here in Wisconsin just three years ago, when a young Menominee student was suspended for speaking her native language in class. Language Healers raises awareness of the issue of indigenous language loss and what is being done to heal it.