Hedekeyeh Hots'ih Kāhidi - "Our Ancestors are in us": strengthening our voices through language revitalization from a Tahltan worldview




Thompson, Judith Charlotte

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Hedekeyeh Hots’ih Kāhidi – “Our Ancestors Are In Us,” describes a Tahltan worldview, which is based on the connection Tahltan people have with our Ancestors, our land, and our language. From this worldview, I have articulated a Tahltan methodology, Tahltan Voiceability, which involves receiving the teachings of our Ancestors and Elders, learning and knowing these teachings, and the sharing of these teachings with our people. By giving voice to our Ancestors and Elders, as well as to all of our people, it sets the stage for research that is useful, relational, and transformative. Tahltan Voiceability speaks not only to the methodology of this study, but also the way in which the voices of my people can gain strength and healing from the revitalization of our language. Conversations with fluent speakers, language teachers, educators, administrators, and language learners informed this investigation with their ideas and experiences regarding Tahltan language revitalization. The learnings from the research are presented in such a way as to honour all voices, using different modes of written expression woven throughout the dissertation. The organization of the dissertation is based upon physical manifestations – examples of art – that have played key roles in my Tahltan journey. This investigation addressed the following questions: How can Tahltan language revitalization positively affect the lives of my people? In the past and present, what has been done to maintain, preserve, and revitalize our Tahltan language? In the future, what do my people need to do to continue to maintain, preserve, and revitalize our Tahltan language? In terms of positive effects, language revitalization can be the start of a process in which we begin to heal from the impacts of past losses by reclaiming our language, culture, and identity, thereby allowing our voices to become stronger and healthier. My people need to identify the steps and actions we need to take in the areas of health, education, social development, and Aboriginal rights and title, so that we can revitalize our language and heal at the same time. From what I learned from co-researchers, scholars who have worked with our Tahltan communities, other Indigenous community language revitalization experts, and international language revitalization scholars, I have provided suggestions to a newly formed Tahltan Language Authority dealing with the assessment of the language, community support, and language revitalization programs being used in British Columbia and other parts of the world. Finally, I speak about Tahltan identity, the process of language revitalization, and the connection between language revitalization and healing as forms of empowerment for my people.



Tahltan worldview, learnings, language revitalization and healing, aboriginal healing, Aboriginal health, Aboriginal language revitalization, Tahltan identity, Tahltan language revitalization, Tahltan Voiceability, Teachings, Voiceability, Tahltan methodology, Indigenous language revitalization