Hali Dardar, Houma Language Project

Language contains culture, and speaking a language not only allows you to communicate, but it is a gateway for understanding stories, metaphors, and the way people think. Accessing culture is critical in maintaining the values, traditions, and the cognition of a community. Hali Dardar and The Houma Language Project aim to provide avenues for individuals to connect with their culture by learning their community language.

Many members of the United Houma Nation, identify as Native American, but lack the linguistic resources to interact with the language. In the 1700s, the Houma people lived on the banks of the Red River speaking a Muskogean language. Through interaction with French settlers, their language shifted to a French form of their native tongue. Many older individuals still communicate in Houma French, but few actively share their language skills. As a result, generations abandoned their language to give their children a better life. Only recently is bilingualism in Louisiana seen as asset. The erosion of land and language has led to the point where people question whether or not this tribe even existed. The Houma Language Project works passionately through historical linguistic documentation to prove that they do.

The Houma Language Project uses language as a form of cultural participation and representation. The project has three primary aims; gather and preserve linguistic information, reconstruct language through contemporary examples, and to provide language in a format for community growth. Through these aims, the project hopes to provide a Houma language that reflects the historical culture and current generation of the tribe.

To learn more about Houma Language Project, visit their website and Facebook page.

GRANT AWARD DATE: May 10, 2015