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Sep 17 2012

Mazinaatesijigan Gekinoo’amaadiwin

Free movies on the UMM campus, open to all!

Watch out for the woo, but you’ve got to appreciate the fact that oppressed peoples are expressing themselves in their own words about their lives and the destruction that has been wreaked on them.

Mazinaatesijigan Gekinoo’amaadiwin Film Series (Films with Knowledge)
For much of the 20th century, American Indian identities were shaped, at least in popular culture and public imaginations, by advertising imagery, photographs, and wild west shows. In the past few decades, American Indian artists and filmmakers have extracted their own image from these external forces, challenging the established codes of representation. The goal of the Mazinaatesijigan Gekinoo’amaadiwin Film Series is to challenge participants to examine and discuss how film impacts Indigenous culture, identity, politics, and stereotypes.

Dakota 38 (2011, 78 min., Smooth Feather Productions)
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
7:00 p.m., 109 Imholte Hall
In the spring of 2005, Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged.

Finding Our Talk (2009, 72 min., Mushkeg Media)
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
7:00 p.m., 109 Imholte Hall
Every fourteen days a language dies. By the year 2100 more than half of the world’s languages will
disappear. This film examines three indigenous communities struggling to preserve their languages: The Rapid Lake Anishinaabe from Quebec, the Wahpeton Dakota Nation from Saskatchewan, and the
Guovdageaidnu Sami from Norway.

Star Dreamers, Part One: The Indian System, Featuring Filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild (2012, 72 min., 38 Plus 2 Productions)
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
7:00 p.m., 109 Imholte Hall
By 1862, the system had brought the Dakota living on reservations in Minnesota to the brink of starvation, offering them little option other than dying of hunger in war. The system made war inevitable. his is the first of a three-part documentary series on the origins of the Dakota War.

Independent Indigenous Film & Media Shorts Featuring Filmmaker Missy Whiteman
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
7:00 p.m., 109 Imholte Hall
A compilation of short films :
Coyote Way (2012, 5 min.)
Nawa Giizhigong (2012, 7 min.)
Indigenous Holocaust (2008, 5 min.)
Neinoo (Mother) (2007, 3 min.)
Walk in Shadows (2004, 7 min.)

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Every fourteen days a language dies. By the year 2100 more than half of the world’s languages will disappear.

    That’s a pretty fascinating statistic. I wonder how true it is?

  2. 2
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    Stevarious,

    Here’s one source for that statistic, from one of the leading scholars in the field. (Sorry for the crappy format, but it was the best I could do with a quick google search.) I can’t find a date for it, and like all such statistics, it’s based on a lot of underlying assumptions (such as, how do you define a language?), but it’s a pretty good metric of the problem.

    National Geographic has more information.

  3. 3
    im

    More significantly I wonder how much of that is part of normal cultural evolution (Languages being created ever?) and how much is mere destruction.

  4. 4
    jmst

    @im:

    Languages being created ever?

    From scratch? Rarely, but google Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language or Nicaraguan Sign Language. Beyond that, I’ll need you to define “language”. Under certain circumstances (low level of contact and/or averse feelings between communinities such as to make mutual influence unlikely or actively guarded against), dialects do certainly drift away from each other towards mutual incomprehensibility. In a time when long-distance communication increases, those circumstances are rarely met, though I guess Singaporean Chinese might be a case in point where contact with the mainland is minimal.

  5. 5
    kougaro

    @im :

    I wonder how much of an analogy can be drawn between the apparition of a new language and a speciation event. You have a population of individuals, using a language, and new words appears, old ones die, and as you point out, a large enough drift of a subpopulation/dialect will lead to a new language/specie.
    I suppose that in this context, languages such as Esperanto or Lojban would be akin to artificial life.

  6. 6
    Trebuchet

    PZ, I’m glad you mentioned “Watch out for the woo.” One of the things the drives me crazy about some of my fellow American liberals is the willingness to accept utter nonsense (Acupuncture, for example) as long as it’s from some non-European culture. Native American mythology falls into this category. It’s no more (or less) true than Christianity but it’s revered anyhow.

  7. 7
    im

    I meant more along the lines of ‘are we suffering a massive drop in the number of languages that exist, or just having high turnover?’

    Woo can be a big thing, although I think that generally Native Americans are against outsiders making use of their woo. Still though, it bothers me that simply making the atheist claim or archaeology that conflicts with legend is attacked.

  8. 8
    chrisdavis

    @im The situation is analogous to that of biological diversity; regardless of how we end up defining “species”, the amount of biological diversity is decreasing at a high rate. Same goes for linguistic diversity, regardless of how we carve up “languages” versus “dialects” versus “varieties”. Some basics from the Linguistic Society of America:

    http://lsadc.org/info/ling-faqs-howmany.cfm

    Note that *all* of the indigenous languages of North America are endangered. And since none of them are genetically related to any non-endangered languages, their loss represents a particularly severe cut to linguistic diversity, analogous perhaps to losing an entire genus, family, or order in the biological world.

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