What are the dates of the institute?

The dates for the 2017 National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages are May 29th through June 9th, 2017. The workshop will take place in Washington, D.C.

When are applications due?

Application deadline is November 1, 2016.

When will we hear whether our application has been accepted?

Applicants will be notified in December 2016 of their application status.

What are the eligibility requirements?

We give preference for Community Researcher Applications to Native Americans and First Nations peoples who are learning and revitalizing their languages.

Applications for Linguistic Partners may be from graduate students, faculty, and other scholars who specialize in Linguistics (preferably in Native American or First Nations languages).

Must I attend the entire two week institute, or can I come for just one week?

You must attend the entire time. Classes, research and homework will fill the two week timeframe. During the weekend, you will have some free time to explore Washington, D.C. or to work with your team on your project, but full attendance and participation is required of all who apply and are accepted into the program.

Do participants need to be enrolled members of a Federally Recognized Tribe?

No. We give preference to applicants who are actively involved in their native communities, but we do not require that participants be enrolled members.  If the applicant is not a member of a tribe they should demonstrate some degree of communal support for their participation.  In some cases, tribes will send language program employees who may not be enrolled members of the tribes they work with.

Do participants need to be U.S. citizens?


How many people from a given community can come?

This will depend partly on the total number of how many applications are received in total.  We will  It is likely that limit the number of participants from any given community will be limited to less than to four (4).

Can we bring our families?

No. Due to housing and program restrictions, we are unable to accommodate families, including children.

Does each member of our group need to apply individually?

Yes. Each member of a language team should submit an application by the November 1, 2016 deadline listed on the application.

How much free time will we have?

The weekend and some evenings when you feel caught up on homework.

What will we be doing?

You will be attending morning lectures and workshops on linguistics, language documentation, archiving, and language revitalization. Afternoons will be spent doing research in the archives or collections (Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives, Cultural Resource Center, National Museum of Natural History, Library of Congress and the National Museum of the American Indian.)  We will also be assigning homework exercises for you and your Linguistic Partners.to work on together in the evening.  Every group will also focus on a particular project of your own choice during the second week to present on the last day (Friday June 9).

Is Breath of Life right for me?

There are many programs for Native American language revitalization, and while all commonly challenge the dominant assumptions that native languages cannot be revitalized or don’t have contemporary value, these programs vary significantly in their goals, approaches, and target language communities.  Many language programs involve learning from living speakers through approaches like master-apprentice or immersion school programming. Some programs focus more on documentation methods and still others share a wide range of approaches to language revitalization in general. 

The Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is specifically geared toward the task of finding, interpreting, and utilizing information from archival sources, such as written materials and audio recordings. For this reason, the Institute will be of particular interest for members of communities whose languages are not currently spoken, though communities with speakers can also benefit by discovering new vocabulary, uncovering old speech styles, and otherwise finding and learning language information held in archival form.

Participants will benefit most when there is a significant quantity of archival material in the various archival collections.  These archives house thousands of resources (field notebooks, other manuscripts, audio recordings, photographs) related to Native American Language and culture.  Program organizers will verify that adequate archival materials are available before final selections are made.

Beyond a general commitment to language learning from archival sources, one crucial detail is that participants must be willing and able to commit to attend and actively participate in the entire Institute.  Aside from truly unforeseen circumstances such as illness, it will not be possible to arrive late, leave early, or to skip the required workshops and events.

How will applications be judged?

Applications will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Commitment to language learning and revitalization using archival resources.
  • Commitment to sharing results of the workshop with other language learners through community programs or by creating projects that are widely accessible.
  • Personal and/or communal language goals are clearly stated.
  • Demonstrate some degree of support for your interest.  This can be done by listing ways in which you interact with others interested in learning to speak your language.
  • Adequate availability of archival resources at collections and archives at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, notably the National Anthropological Archives, and the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as in the Library of Congress

What expenses might we expect to have?

Community Research applicants will be required to pay $500 (in US dollars) per application to help defer costs of this program.  Housing, transportation, food and rental space are all very expensive in the D.C. area and the NSF grant used to support this project is unable to provide full funding for all costs incurred by this program.  We have done our best to provide quality accommodations while at the same time giving participants a once in a lifetime opportunity.

You will be paying for your own breakfast and suppers, and for all meals over the weekend. Your room accommodations will have fully functioning kitchens so you will be able to prepare your own breakfast and suppers and won’t need to eat out for your meals.  While we will be covering some of the local transportation costs, you will probably have incidental transportation costs of your own.  Bring money for office supplies and other incidental expenses.  Any copying of materials, not already provided through the program, will need to be arranged with the archives themselves, and there will be charges for that.

We do offer a limited number of scholarships for applicants who can demonstrate a financial need. Please contact us about available scholarships.

How will we get around?

The Washington DC Metro (public transportation) is the easiest way to travel in and around the D.C. area.  For most participants, the metro is easily accessible with a short walk or shuttle service to the metro.

Are you paying for our transportation?

We have the funds to partially subsidize transportation costs up to $600 per person. We will be in touch about how to make your transportation arrangements after notification of acceptance.

Where will we stay?

We have contracted with Oakwood Properties to provide furnished one and two bedroom apartments in the DC area.  More information will be provided at the time of acceptance.

More questions?

Contact us at myaamiacenter@miamioh.edu