My name is Carly Tex, and I am delighted to have been asked by the AICLS Board of Directors to serve as interim Executive Director. As for my background, I was a member of the Board of Directors for 5 years and have learned much over my time with AICLS about its programs, services, funding, and the community served. I hold a Master’s degree in Native American Linguistics through the NAMA Program at University of Arizona, and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology with an emphasis in Linguistic Studies from California State University, Sonoma, as well as an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Fresno City College. I am Western Mono and a citizen of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.
Ever since I was a teenager, I was interested in my tribal language and I often practiced with my grandmother and other elders in our community. When I began my education after high school, I continued to work with elders trying to document as much as I could of the language and learn its structure inside and out. Unfortunately, sometimes this work can be difficult as we watch those elders grow older, forget their words, and then pass away. That is why it is important to me to also teach and maintain the language. For several years I worked as a consultant and eventually it led me to work with the Nuumu Yadoha Language Program, a Program of the Owens Valley Career Development Center, which is dedicated to language and cultural revitalization through the purposes of Tribal TANF. I was a contracted teacher before becoming their Language and Cultural Coordinator for Fresno County. This work has taught me an extensive amount of lessons and experience in administration, financial management, and community collaboration/organization. I am also a descendant on my mom’s side of the Dunlap Band of Mono Indians, a non-Federally Recognized Tribe. I bring attention to that fact because I am aware that in our work, we often encounter non-Federally Recognized Tribes seeking our services and I would like those members of our language revitalization community to know that we serve all California Indians, and that we include you.
In my first year as interim Executive Director, it just happens to also be the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages. Already, our Board has been involved in activities surrounding this historic year and we have planned for our upcoming Language is Life 2019 to have the theme “Fixing the World in the Year of Indigenous Languages”. As for my plan for the first year, I intend to focus on training and professional development to fully understand the internal workings of our programs, setting up consistent systems of program development and communication between the AICLS Administration and our Master-Apprentice teams and funders, enhancing our Family Language Program and of course overseeing the Language is Life 2019 and Breath of Life 2020.
During my experience working with AICLS, I have been amazed at the amount of support and loyalty that the AICLS has received from our communities for our programs:
- Master-Apprentice Program
- Family Language Program
- Seeds of Language Mini-Grant Fund
- Breath of Life
- Language is Life biennial events
The Master-Apprentice program and the Family Language program supports a master speaker teaching one or more apprentice(s) in the home. Over the years, I have enjoyed seeing young children grow into teens and adults speaking their languages knowing the Master-Apprentice Program and Family Language programs assisted in the process.
It is also important to support the Breath of Life and Seeds of Language Mini-Grant fund. It is a great way for communities to acquire access and copies of archival documents relating to their own languages. Participants visit a university like U.C. Berkeley where they team up with a linguistics mentor to learn the grammar, the ethologies, and to hear audio and video recordings of elders from their families and communities. After participating in this program, these communities are able to continue working together in their homes homes, to acquire their languages at their own pace and, with hope, share what they’ve learned with their communities.
When the language work gets tough, as it often does, we must seek out other language workers to cry, vent, brainstorm, partner with, collaborate and share. That is why we offer another bi-ennial statewide gathering–the Language is Life Gathering. This event brings together leading language advocates and important leaders in the language revitalization movement to engage and inspire participants with new and exciting ways to acquire their languages.
Someone once asked us if our work is done. I do not think so. I think it is gaining momentum. We regularly receive requests from many potential partners working to revitalize indigenous languages, we receive invitations to participate in or to conduct workshops and speak at both community-based and professional level conferences interested in our Master-Apprentice method and best practices. At times the need seems to be even more acute. Therefore, it is necessary that we shore up the foundation of the AICLS organization in order to continue providing strong support and a launching off point for independent, self-sustaining community language efforts. I like being part of that strengthening of AICLS. I look forward to helping AICLS grow and sharing our accomplishments with you in the future.