I spent the last week or so visiting the American Indian Language Development Institute in Tucson, Arizona. It was beautiful and hot out there in the desert. AILDI is an Institute at the University of Arizona that runs for four weeks. It offers a series of courses for developing the skills and networking of people interested in American Indian languages. The courses are intensive but from what I saw extremely useful. Included are courses on Language Policy and Planning, Grant Writing for Indigenous Languages, American Indian Language Immersion and more. It was inspiring to be part of it and speak with the participants and teachers.
I gave a talk on my work in Australia, as a community based linguist and as a researcher, the next day I had a chance to visit some of the classes and talk with more details about different aspects of those two jobs. I am still thinking through many different aspects of it, it would be amazing to see its parallel in Australia.
It was so wonderful to walk around and hear the different languages being spoken, and to hear about what is happening in different communities in the USA.
There was also a visitor there from a company called the ‘Phraselator’, who were selling a small handheld device, meant as a tool for recording Indigenous languages, using voice activation.
The last day I was there there was an excursion with the Tohono O’odham Elders to pick ‘bahidaj’ the fruit of the saguaro (cactus), we walked in the morning sun and used the long ribs of the saguaro tied into poles to push the fruit from the top and catch it in a bucket. There were lizards scuttling about and prickly cactus plants everywhere. The fruit tasted sweet – a bit like fig. It was beautiful!