Support Terralingua and the Voices of the Earth

Dear Terralingua members and friends,

When thinking about year-end charitable giving, please consider our Voices of the Earth project. This work embodies the essence of Terralingua’s mission: to collaborate in on-the-ground partnerships with indigenous and local communities striving to keep their languages,  knowledge, and oral traditions alive.

Our partners are keen to continue this work with us, and we’d love to do just that. Please Donate now to Terralingua and  help the Voices of the Earth thrive!

Why Do the Voices of the Earth Matter?

Through the millennia, humanity has spoken in many different tongues—the thousands of languages through which the world’s diverse cultures have expressed their beliefs, values, and wisdom. Oral traditions are the tie that links people to people and people to place. They tell us how to be human, how to respect one another, and how to care for the natural world that sustains us.

Oral traditions contain a wealth of lessons for us all: they remind us that there are other worldviews, other ways of life that are far more connected, more respectful, and more sustainable than the current dominant paradigm. Nurturing the treasure of the world’s oral traditions directly benefits the long-term well-being and resilience of indigenous and local communities, and of humanity at large.

What’s Happening with the Voices of the Earth?

Increasingly, the Voices of the Earth are at risk of being silenced, overwhelmed by the rising tide of only a few, dominant languages. Along with the languages, also threatened are the ancient teachings that the Voices of the Earth have passed down, through oral traditions, from one generation to the next.

Already, our Index of Linguistic Diversity tells us that there has been a 25% decline in the world’s linguistic diversity since 1970—that is, in the past 40 years alone! That’s why it’s so vital to sustain the Voices of the Earth—and why Terralingua started the Voices of the Earth project. It’s a rush against time, while the last generations of fluent elders are still with us.

What Is Terralingua Doing for the Voices of the Earth?

We set up the project to support Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ efforts to document and revitalize their oral traditions. Keeping their oral traditions alive contributes to strengthening their identities, and helps ensure that indigenous and local worldviews, values, beliefs, knowledge, and practices are transmitted to the younger generations. It reaffirms ancestral connections with the land, healing body and mind. In many cases, it provides tools to uphold cultural and land rights threatened by unwanted “development” pressures.

Our initial partnerships have been with the Saanich  and Tsilhqot’in First Nations of British Columbia, Canada, and with local communities in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Focus on The Saanich: “Bringing Our Stories Back”

Why did we choose to work with British Columbia (B.C.) First Nations? Close to where Terralingua’s home base is, the situation is especially serious: many of the local indigenous languages are highly at risk, with younger generations not learning their ancestral tongues.

Today only 5.1% of the B.C. First Nations population are fluent speakers of their language. The majority of these speakers are aged 65 and older. These means action is needed quickly.
Source: Report on the Status of BC First Nations Languages, 2010

B.C. First Nations are taking action. The Saanich  people (of the Coast Salish language family) have developed a very active language revitalization program, housed at the Saanich Tribal School in Brentwood Bay, B.C. A group of very committed Saanich Language Apprentices is training to be the next generation of language champions.

We are working with the Apprentices on the project,“Bringing Our Stories Back”, which focuses on the documentation of traditional stories in their language and the production of illustrated storybooks. The Apprentices transcribe and translate the stories and create the beautiful artwork that illustrates them. The books will be used as a part of the language revitalization program and to enhance the school’s educational curriculum. The project’s long-term goal is to reconnect the Saanich people to their cultural heritage and to their ancestral sense of place.

I want my children to have the opportunity that many of our people did not have, that I did not have, to hear our ancestral tongue in the home. 
SXEDTELISIYE – Saanich Language Apprentice

So far, Terralingua has supported the production of two of these storybooks, which are going to print now and will be distributed in both print and electronic format {for download on this page}. It has been a very enriching experience for all involved, and we all want for this urgent work to continue. There’s so much more to do and so little time!

Donate to support the Voices of the Earth Today!

Please do consider supporting this very special project by donating to Terralingua!  All donations, whether large or small, are important to keep the Voices of the Earth alive and strong!

Thank you for your generous support! With best regards and warm wishes for the holidays,

Luisa Maffi, Ph.D.
Terralingua Co-founder and Director

Thanks for your donations!
Contributions to Terralingua are tax-deductible in the U.S.A. and Canada

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