Eskimo language and Eskimo song in Alaska: A sociolinguistics of deglobalisation in endangered language

Hiroko Ikuta

Abstract

Across Alaska, the popularity of indigenous forms of dance has risen, particularly in indigenous communities in which English dominates the heritage languages and Native youth have become monolingual English speakers. Some indigenous people say that Native dance accompanied by indigenous song is a way of preserving their endangered languages. With two case studies from Alaskan Eskimo communities, Yupiget on St. Lawrence Island and Iñupiat in Barrow, this article explores how use of endangered languages among Alaskan Eskimos is related to the activity of performing Eskimo dance. I suggest that practice of Eskimo dancing and singing that local people value as an important linguistic resource can be considered as a de-globalised sociolinguistic phenomenon, a process of performance and localisation in which people construct a particular linguistic repertoire withdrawn from globalisable circulation in multilingualism.

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