Lenore A. Grenoble & Carl Chr. Olsen, Puju
An indigenous-driven project, the Arctic Indigenous Language Initiative is working to reverse language shift through active
engagement and collaboration throughout the circumpolar region. The project is defined and determined by the Permanent
Participants of the Arctic Council, who are working to collaborate with researchers, representatives from Arctic Indigenous
organizations and Arctic governments, language activists, and policy makers. While the long-term goal is to achieve vitality and
sustainability for Arctic indigenous languages, the first measures center around assessment in three key areas: (1) Arctic language
policy; (2) language acquisition; and (3) language vitality. We discuss each of these three areas, including the creation of
indigenously defined assessment metrics; the establishment of feedback mechanisms from the community, including communitybased (peer) review of findings; and the role of academic linguists and community members. Critically, we explore the mechanisms
for creating policy changes at all levels, and the measures needed to turn the findings of the assessment teams into action to promote
Arctic indigenous language vitality. We address the challenges of working across such broad geographic territories, spanning
multiple national boundaries, and the challenges of working with so many stakeholders with such diverse interests.
For Arctic indigenous peoples, knowledge of their ancestral language is a central component of wellbeing. Not only is this view taken by external researchers (see Schweitzer et al. 2010), but it is also
Lenore A. Grenoble is the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and
is with Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canada. Carl Chr. Olsen, puju, is Head of Secretariat, Oqaasileriffik and
President, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Greenland.
This project has been funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada [