The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the LSA a grant of $90,000 for a new project focused on "Building Capacity in Linguistics and Endangered Languages at Tribal Colleges and Universities." LSA Executive Director Alyson Reed, and Endangered Language Fund President Monica Macaulay will serve as Principal Investigators for the project. The abstract for the successful proposal is provided below.

Proposal Abstract

Educational attainment for Native Americans and Native Alaskans is lower than the general population and lower than other underrepresented groups.  This is true at all degree levels and in all disciplines, according to various sets of statistics published by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).  How can these statistics be improved so that science and engineering enterprise broadens participation by Native Americans and Native Alaskans? One approach is to build capacity at tribal colleges and universities.  Tribal colleges and universities, which are chartered by their respective tribal governments, operate more than 75 campuses and serve students from more than 230 federally recognized tribes.  Engaging with faculty and students at tribal colleges, especially building disciplinary knowledge and research skills, is one way to do this.  One pathway to this is via indigenous languages, especially since Native communities and tribal colleges often have a tribal language component. The Native American Languages Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990, enacted into policy the recognition of the unique status and importance of Native American languages. All Native American languages are endangered, although they vary considerably in terms of who, how and where the languages are in use.  Building capacity in the area of Native American languages and linguistics will support tribal language preservation activities and tribal college language offerings. The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) advances the scientific study of language and serves as the largest disciplinary resource nationally.  Endangered languages and broadening participation are priorities of the LSA, whose standing committees includes the Committee on Endangered Languages and Their Preservation and the Committee on Ethnic Diversity. The national meeting of the LSA brings its members together annually and offers an opportunity to bring linguists and tribal college participants together, with the larger goal of building capacity of tribal colleges and universities and of broadening participation by Native Americans and Native Alaskans in the language sciences.  Broader impacts also include training linguistics graduate students in best practices in ethical tribal-academic partnerships and in the development of resources to broaden participation in the social sciences.

The Linguistic Society of America, in conjunction with the Endangered Language Fund, will pilot various strategies for building the capacity of tribal colleges and universities to integrate linguistics into research and other educational programs. Key to this will be an assessment of existing resources in linguistics and Native American languages at tribal colleges and universities, followed by a satellite workshop hosted at the annual LSA Meeting.  The satellite workshop and related activities over the four-day Annual Meeting will include hands on training, exposure to cutting edge research, professional development resources, networking sessions, mentoring and social activities. Partners include grassroots organizations like the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona, among others with established track records in collaborating with Native American communities and tribal colleges and universities. The team will pilot strategies to increase the integration of linguistics into TCU curricula, to increase professional development and other resources for TCU faculty in linguistics,  and to foster collaborations between TCU and research university faculty that build capacity at TCUs, ideally to generalize strategies that can be adopted by other social sciences. A professional evaluator will conduct an assessment of the activities supported by this grant.  Another intended outcome of this research is to disseminate results to create resources for tribal colleges, research universities, and disciplinary organizations in allied fields to broaden participation and to build capacity.  

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1643510.