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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Drawing on the international literature in language planning and policy, this chapter examines Indigenous language rights. Like the diagnostic “miner’s canary,” the rights accorded or denied to Indigenous peoples reflect larger issues of equity and justice for minoritized- and endangered-language communities. The chapter begins with background on Indigenous peoples, their distinctive status as originary peoples and inherent sovereigns, the present state of Indigenous language vitality and endangerment, and the stakes involved in Indigenous language loss and reclamation. Following is an examination of research and practice in Indigenous language rights. A third section examines those rights in a key public domain: education. The chapter concludes with the implications of this work for the revitalization and sustainability of Indigenous languages and their associated cultural and knowledge systems. An aspirational alternative to the “miner’s canary” metaphor is offered, in which language rights are rooted in the principle and practice of Indigenous self-determination.

Keywords: Indigenous languages, minority rights, language reclamation, Indigenous peoples

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