When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Tracy Kelley, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts, saw an unexpected opportunity for her website, Kun8seeh, which means “talk to me” in Wampanoag.

Kun8seeh (run through the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, where Kelley is now interim director) was part of Kelley’s master’s project in linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Indigenous Languages Initiative, a special program for members of communities whose languages are threatened. When in-person classes became impossible, the community realized the need to offer online language instruction.

Kimberly Christen.

For example, Murkutu is an open-source digital access platform built with and for Indigenous communities that allows them to curate materials from digital repositories, which include recorded oral histories that allow for language revitalization and preserving and sharing cultural heritage. Kimberly Christen, director of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at Washington State University, who helped build Murkutu, says, “Native languages have been threatened by colonial projects and ongoing Western systems for a very long time. With UNESCO’s upcoming Decade of Indigenous Languages, there’s really been a focus on … the technologies that can help support Indigenous efforts.”

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