Toward Language in Action: Agency-Oriented Application of the GRASAC Database for Anishinaabe Language Revitalization

Cory Ann Willmott, Alexandra Taitt, Mary Ann Corbiere, Alan Corbiere


Under the direction of Ruth Phillips, GRASAC (Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture) is a worldwide collaborative research consortium composed of indigenous community members, museum professionals, and academic researchers. This article discusses a project that explored the potential of GRASAC’s database to support language revitalization. The authors video recorded interviews with two beadworkers in the Anishinaabe language. Applying andragogy theory to the natural approach to language acquisition, the team processed the video into content rich video clips with a focus on the domain specific vocabulary of beadwork that is relevant to the heritage items in the GRASAC database. The team applied an agency-oriented approach to software development by systematically testing five use cases for uploading the language data into the GRASAC database. The collaborative process revealed unexpected results at the intersection of language and culture revitalization, and recommendations for applying new technologies to develop new techniques for promoting indigenous language acquisition.


Language Revitalization; Translating (Language); Language Documentation; Second-Language Acquisition; Endangered Languages; Collaboration; Anishinaabe; Language Acquisition Theory; Beadwork; Database

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