The real work of language and cultural revitalization must be carried out by people within the minority community itself. We desire to assist community-based groups where they exist—or to spawn them where they don’t—by serving as a source of inspiration and ideas, by encouraging networking between groups, and by providing technical assistance where needed. Over all that we do, the following core principles guide our partnerships with indigenous groups.
- Ethnic communities have the right to self-determination. This includes the right to give up their language, though we will seek to make this an informed choice.
- Ultimately it is the people within a community itself—not outside organizations like Sulawesi Language Alliance—who will determine the success of revitalization efforts.
- We are there to serve, to listen first of all to the felt needs of a community and then to seek ways to help them achieve their aspirations.
- We are there to empower ethnic communities to take responsibility for their own futures. In the course of providing assistance, we eschew relationships whereby any group would become dependent on us for funding, planning, or decision-making.
- In order to train and to build local capacity, we encourage participation even in technically-oriented tasks such as linguistic analysis, orthography design, and dictionary compilation.
- Change is a natural aspect of both languages and cultures. While helping minority communities move forward into a new era with pride in their language and ethnic identity, we do not waste effort trying to restore a perceived pristine or golden age from the past.
Nothing would make us happier than to see vital, functioning, community-based groups actively promoting their local language and culture. When a group no longer needs our help, we will be freed to devote more attention to other language communities that do.
About Sulawesi Language Alliance