BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — In an effort to preserve and save Indigenous languages from extinction, a conference was held to educate stakeholders and urge immediate action.

The International Conference on Indigenous Language Documentation, Education, and Revitalization (ICILDER) took place in Bloomington Oct. 12 & 13 and included many organizations dedicated to preserving world languages. With over 50 Indigenous language advocates in attendance, the conference was hosted by the Council of Indigenous Language Organizations (CILO) and the leading nonprofit committed to preserving threatened Indigenous languages, The Language Conservancy (TLC).

“The conference was a great success. Bringing together language revitalization champions from around the world and sharing best practices for making language preservation and maintenance a priority – and scalable – collaborations were formed during the event that are sure to impact this vital work. Without it, cultures and histories will be lost forever,” said Wil Meya, CEO of The Language Conservancy.

The annual Kevin Locke Award was also presented during the conference to Roanne Hill, a Crow Language Consortium board member and teacher at St. Labre in Montana, from the Crow Tribe. Hill accepted the award on the Council of Indigenous Language Organization’s behalf.

Throughout the conference, many world-renowned linguists, scholars, and educators, shared their insights, experiences, and methods to lead a path forward for keeping alive and documenting Indigenous languages throughout North America and the globe. 

Other highlights from the conference included:

  • A real-time demonstration of the fastest technique ever used to create Indigenous language dictionaries quickly, accurately, and efficiently, called “Rapid Word Collection.” 
  • Shared best practices on using AI and other technologies for language documentation and maintenance, including the most advanced e-learning language platforms. 
  • Language revitalization success stories including Cowlitz, which was practically eradicated but made a tremendous comeback due to the efforts of ICILDER organizers. 
  • The presentation of the first-ever Kevin Locke Award was named in memory of the Lakota language champion, educator, Native hoop dancer, and Northern Plains flute player/recording artist who advocated for culture, language, music, and dancing.
  • Performances/presentations of Indigenous language dance and music.  
  • Numerous linguist presentations on linguistic histories and successes, citing tribal successes.