2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Acknowledging the Implications of Native North American Language Revitalization Efforts: A Focus on the Teaching of Western Shoshoni

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Tim Thornes


In 2018, UNESCO predicted that by the end of this century, between 50-90% of the world’s 6,000-7,000 currently spoken indigenous languages will cease to be spoken when their last fluent speakers pass (UNESCO, 2018). Included in this prediction are the approximately 150 native languages spoken in North America today (Koyfman, 2017). In an effort to safeguard histories, traditions, memories, and a sense of identity for these language communities, people from around the world have been inspired to make moves in the direction of revitalization, preservation, and promotion of indigenous language use. One such local effort is that of teaching Western Shoshoni, a Native North American language spoken in Idaho and Nevada, at the community and university levels in eastern Idaho. Though it may be assumed that these efforts are necessary and therefore welcomed by all members within a language community, it is increasingly important to consider the goals of the language community itself and the ways in which these efforts are implemented. This paper provides a foundation for understanding the complexities that come with Native North American language revitalization efforts as seen from different perspectives, using the teaching of Western Shoshoni as a local example.

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