Story-films helping to conserve Native Californian languages produced each semester by students in my Nature and World Cultures class are making international waves.
A Feburary 2016 Al Jazeera story by reporter Rob Reynolds on the Hupa (Hoopa) tribe’s efforts to keep their language alive – “Hupa: A language that refuses to die“– contained a shout-out to one of the bilingual animated story films made by our San Jose State University students (read below).
Tribal official Gordon Bussell (who is also featured in one of our student films on YouTube, How the Coyote Stole Daylight) is quoted in the article, which reads:
“This is what keeps the world together, is our languages. This language doesn’t just exist because of us. It actually exists in the air in the land, and it’s part of everything.
“So when I talk the language, the land knows me. To lose your language is like losing the fingers on your hand. Then, your body is sick. And so now, the world is sick.”
Outsiders are helping too. Students at the San Jose State University, under the direction of Professor Jeanine Pfeiffer, made an animated film of a Hupa legend, narrated by Hupa elder Verdena Parker and posted on YouTube.