THERE IS ROOM FOR EVERYONE TO LEARN THEIR LANGUAGE
We are learners who, recognizing the contributions of our celebrated language leaders, at the same time understand that the responsibility of reclaiming our language cannot and should not fall on the shoulders of a few. In order for our language to truly thrive, it will take efforts on all fronts, from a multitude of people.
We recognize the trauma which has affected the elder generations; there are many reasons why the language has not been passed on. As such, we acknowledge individual responsibility as the unaffected generation to rise up and meet our elders where they are. We believe that we need to carry our share of the load and do what we can to learn for ourselves, for the language must once again be the language of the youth as well as the elders.
We think there needs to be more language in our lives, not less — more efforts, more programs, more practice and more discussion. We believe efforts by all learners should be encouraged, not diminished.
We believe that language learners can and should become part of the language community, and even language leaders. For within the passage of one more generation, if we’re not raising new first-language speakers, all Iñupiat will be learners.
We understand that you don’t have to know everything to share what you do know — to be a teacher, you only need to know more than the person you are teaching. We believe that by embracing this broader definition of teacher, a generation can grow in learning together, hand in hand.
We recognize the value in learning from other second-language learners. While fluent speakers of any language hold irreplaceable knowledge, they often struggle to explain exactly how they learned. Adult second-language learners understand acutely the journey of language acquisition, both the joys and the challenges.
We emphasize the importance of fostering a supportive environment which seeks to leave learning barriers at the door, such as the fear of criticism, ridicule, or getting something wrong. We appreciate that toddlers and youth are granted the grace to practice making the sounds of language, making mistakes and getting it right, and that adult second language learners should be afforded the same privilege.
We welcome and encourage all dialects.
We recognize that while we largely speak the same language across regions, our local "styles" differ. There is everything beautiful about a linguistic style that provides connection to the land and place you are from and who you and your people are. There is everything beautiful about wanting to learn and preserve the exact ways of your family and community.
However, we remember that our ancestors traveled across the regions for game and for trade, and that they knew and still know a variety of dialects and ways of speaking. We also know that the grammatical workings of the language are shared across dialectical and regional boundaries. Learning more and different ways to speak Iñupiaq does not diminish our ability to learn our own dialects — rather, it enhances it. We urge mutual sharing of the ways of speaking in each of our communities. It will only make our experience of the language richer and stronger.