Hi guys! So we’re back for day two of April’s A to Z Challenge and today’s endangered language (beginning, naturally, with B) is Blackfoot.
An Algonquian language, Blackfoot (or: Siksika, Piikani, Pied Noir, or Blackfeet) is spoken by the Blackfoot tribes of Native Americans who currently reside in southern Alberta and northwestern Montana. There are four dialects which represent tribal subdivisions; three of them are spoken in Canada and one in the US. The Canadian dialects are: Siksiká (Blackfoot), spoken near Calgary; Kainai (Blood), spoken in Alberta; and Apátohsipikani (Northern Piegan), spoken near Fort MacLeod. Aamsskáápipikani (Southern Piegan) is spoken in Montana (Frantz, n.d.).
According to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (2010), around 3,000 people speak Blackfoot; 2,000 from the Canadian 2001 census and 1,000 from the US 1990 census. These figures could, naturally, be different more than fifteen years later – and it does seem like there has been much effort put into the revitalisation of the language. For example, the Piegan Institute on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana offers many community-based projects, including an immersion programme for children through to eighth grade. Blackfeet Community College is another example; this has allowed not only the promotion and education of the Blackfoot language and customs, but also offers classes in a wide range of subjects, showing the tribe’s success in education. There is a Piikani Language and Culture Division at the college which offers the chance for students to learn about “Piikani cultural values, language, history, government relations and contemporary issues.” (Blackfeet Community College, 2016.)
This all points to relatively promising progress: although the number of speakers seems to be in decline, a lot of effort is being put into teaching the language from a young age and maintaining its use outside of the home, which is where minority languages usually face the most pressure. There is also a lot of support, including from the Canadian governent, which should have some kind of positive effect. With so many resources and avenues for a Blackfoot speaker to follow, it will be interesting to see how it fares in the future.
Blackfeet Community College, 2016. Piikani Language and Culture Division. Available from: http://bfcc.edu/academics/academic-divisions/cultural-language-division/. [Accessed 02 April 2016].
Frantz, D., n.d. The Blackfoot Language. Available from: http://people.uleth.ca/~frantz/blkft.html. [Accessed 02 April 2016].
Moseley, C., ed., 2007. Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages. Oxon: Routledge.
Moseley, C., ed., 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Online version: http://www.unesco.org/culture/en/endangeredlanguages/atlas.
Piegan Institute, 2014. About the Piegan Institute – Researching, Promoting and Preserving Native Languages in Browning Montana. Available from: http://www.pieganinstitute.org/aboutpiegan.html. [Accessed 02 April 2016].
Wikipedia, 2016. Blackfoot language. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackfoot_language. [Accessed 02 April 2016].
Resources for Learning
native-languages.org: Blackfoot Language (a lot of resources!)
blackfoot.org: Blackfoot Language (pronunciation guide/useful phrases)
usaylearn.com: Blackfoot Language Introduction (seems like an introductory course)
And a quick note before I go – here are the languages I’ll be covering next week:
Monday 4th April: Chantyal
Tuesday 5th April: Duwet
Wednesday 6th April: Ese ejja
Thursday 7th April: Francoprovençal
Friday 8th April: Gutnish
Saturday 9th April: Hupa