Developing Indigenous Language Materials for Schools and Land-Based Documentation: Gwa'sala-'Nak'waxda'xw Nation and Kwakwala (ISO: kwk)

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Wilson, Peter John




This study examines school-based and land-based language materials for Kwakwala (ISO, kwk) developed during a three-year investigation (2016-2019). The materials focussed on three requirements: first, supporting teachers and researchers who are learning the language, second, ensuring that documentation is accurate and conforms to curriculum and guidelines from Elders, and third, integrating Indigenous language and knowledge throughout school activities and revitalization of traditional homelands. I address the above requirements using a Transdisciplinary model to approach the complex multi-disciplinary needs of the school and land-based activities. These require Indigenous knowledge and expertise from numerous disciplines. In this study, similar to Mark and Turk (2021), various disciplines (Indigenous and Western-based) are unified through an overarching theory. Situated Learning is the unifying theory to ensure language, social, cultural, and locational contexts are authentic and situated in Indigenous settings. Evidence-based analysis is the over-arching method used to examine the materials. Together, these frame Situated Documentation, a method used in this study to situate community-based documentation in authentic locations. Participatory Action Research integrates the expertise of school staff, researchers, experts, Chiefs and Elders with the researcher. Transdisciplinary highlights include Word Paradigm corpus-based concordance analysis to compare Kwakwala inflections in materials with curriculum expectations, multimodal ethnographic coding of print and multimedia materials to examine the situational accuracy and consistency of language and social conventions, and comparative analysis to determine the communicative competence in narratives. In addition, analyses include comparison with earlier materials, attention to ethnophysiography, and examination of the study developed computer based parser to correct difficulties with written documentation. In conclusion, the materials developed during the study assist the community and the school to achieve their goals to revitalize their homelands and language. The materials meet curriculum expectations, represent language and Indigenous themes, conform to Indigenous social values and dialect variation, and demonstrate authentic and accurate land-based documentation. Results from computer-based parsing demonstrate improved documentation of written language. Recommendations indicate that non fluent teachers benefit from grammatical-functional materials and links between curriculum expectations and language structures, while both teachers and land-based researchers benefit from situating documentation activities in authentic locations.


Education - Language and Literature
Physical Geography




Carleton University

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Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies

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