|2015 National Breath of Life participants. Photo by Judith Andrews, Recovering Voices, Smithsonian Institution.|
In June of 2017 the National Breath of Life institute for indigenous languages will be coming back to our nation’s capital for the fourth time! The two week, hands-on workshop provides native community members access to archival materials that can help revitalize lost and endangered languages. Along with the National Anthropological Archives (NMNH) and the Library of Congress, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Archive Center has been happy provide access to the language and cultural materials in our archival collections as a part of this program.
Breath of Life not only brings to the forefront the importance of maintaining and making accessible archival collections, but for us at NMAI has also been a jumping off point for communication and collaboration between the archivists at NMAI and the native researchers who come to DC as a part of this program. Since 2011, when the National Breath of Life institute was first held, we have discovered language materials in our collections, particularly in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records, that we didn’t even realize we had. Following the 2015 program, the NMAI Archive Center sent out over 2000 pages of digitized documents from the MAI, Heye Foundation records to native researchers for further study and use in their community projects.
|Sky Campbell doing research at the NMAI Archive Center as part of the 2013 Breath of Life archival institute, 2013. The records he is viewing are part of Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records. Photo by Rachel Menyuk, NMAI.|
I would highly recommend reading further about the program on their website. Applications for the two week program are currently available online and the deadline is November 1st, just in time for the end of American Archives month!
2017 Breath of Life Applications Available
You can read about Sky Campbell’s (Otoe-Missouria Language director) experience in the NMAI Archive Center during the 2013 Breath of Life program here:
Otoe–Missouria Language Director Sky Campbell shares his experience at the NMAI Archive Center
Rachel Menyuk, Archives Technician
National Museum of the American Indian, Archive Center