Ancestral Language Acquisition Among Native Americans: A Study of a Haida Language Class

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This work addresses Native American students’ learning and participation styles with regard to second language acquisition in such a context: The Haidas of British Columbia learning their ancestral language in an elementary school classroom. The study also elucidates the problems encountered during the transition from informal learning to formal education.


“Tribal teaching and learning traditions will be appreciated only by mainstream educators who no longer take their own pedagogies for granted as universal. This book will open the eyes of Indian and non-Indian educators alike.” – John Peacock, Professor of Language, Literature, and Culture, Maryland Institute College of Art

“Much has been written about Native American communication styles, yet until Dr. White’s study, no one has used the information to examine a specific Native American language situation to consider the effects learning styles have upon language acquisition, or to critique the educational system within which language learning takes place.” - Dr. Jeane Breinig, Associate Professor of English, University of Alaska Anchorage

“As Darrell Kipp of the Peigan Institute states, “the only way to save a language is to teach it to a child.” Frederick White’s study of the Haida Language Program and his very through research and analysis graciously provide ways to do just that.” - Maggie Discont, ESL Instructor, West Hills College

Table of Contents

Preface by John H. Peacock
List of Symbols
1 Introduction and literature Review
2 Haida historical background
3 Methodology
4 The case for Haida participation
5 A closer look at the Haida lessons
6 Issues involved in teaching Haida
7 Conclusions
Appendix A: Excerpt of 1994 1st grade class
Appendix B: Skidegate 1994 1st grade class
Appendix C: 1st grade crafts Skidegate 12/98
Appendix D: 1st grade crafts #2 Skidegate 12/98
Appendix E: 1st grade crafts language and crafts mix
Appendix F: 1st grade complete Haida lesson
Appendix G: Kindergarten lesson 12/98

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