Daryl Baldwin discusses the Myaamia-Illinois Language

Daryl Baldwin (Miami) is Director of The Myaamia Project at Miami University, Ohio. The project, initiated in 1995, is active in preserving, promoting and researching Miami Nation history, culture and language. Members of the Miami nation today reside in Indiana and Oklahoma. This video lecture about the Miami-Illinois language was presented at the University of Illinois in Spring 2004. Mr. Baldwin has worked extensively with Dr. David Costa to uncover and document historical materials on the language, and to revitalize its use in the community.
He says:

“Immersion is by far the best way. Schools will not bring back Native languages, that much I know. We can learn a lot about our language in school, and our language being in the schools is a very good thing, but in terms of our community speaking the language, it has to be in the home. It isn’t until there is intergenerational transmission between parent and child...

“Here is something else for you to think about. Even though our elders don’t speak the language there is something they do remember that is very important…the beliefs values and knowledge that that language reflected. So often times we turn to them to say “What does this mean to you”? When you can bring that knowledge back together with the language that expresses it, you are bringing together two very important pieces of a puzzle.”

Clip 1: What does it mean to call the Miami-Illinois language a “polysynthetic” language?

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Clip 2: What is a “language” anyway?

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Clip 3: Some problems with linguistic categories such as “animate” and “inanimate.”

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Clip 4: What about pronunciation and spelling in Myaamia-Illinois?

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Clip 5: How is culture expressed through language?

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Clip 6: How do words encode ecological knowledge?

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Clip 7: Why have Native languages declined?

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Clip 8: How do you go about the work of reclaiming the Miami-Illinois language when the last fluent speakers have died?

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Clip 9: Can you tell us more about reclaiming the Miami-Illinois language?

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Clip 10: What else do you do at The Myaamia Project? (ethnobotany research on Native plants, and production of Miami-Illinois language teaching materials for children).

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Clip 11: To what extent have you invented new words for things like airplane or car?

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Clip 12: What sort of background with your culture do you have?

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Clip 13: Don’t the Miami use “blood quantum” to determine tribal membership?

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Clip 14: What got you started on this journey with the Miami-Illinois language?

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Clip 15: Do your children speak the language?

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Clip 16: What does it take to bring a language back into use?

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