In 2016, after much tribal deliberation on the best possible ways for the Acoma people to move forward with their language revitalization efforts, the leaders of the Acoma Pueblo and the Acoma Department of Education approached The Language Conservancy (TLC), a nonprofit developer of Native American language educational materials, to discuss the documentation and preservation of the Keres language. The result was a partnership between the Acoma Department of Education and TLC to initiate the Acoma Keres Language Recovery Project.
The Keres language is the foundation of Acoma culture. It is what makes the Acoma an unique, irreplaceable group with distinct cosmology, traditions, and beliefs. It is the people’s common tool for analyzing and synthesizing the world and all human experiences. Together, we are working to preserve this sacred language for future generations.
The passing of the Keres language and traditions from one generation to the next cannot depend solely on the success of regular education. Consistent and engaging daily language instruction throughout a child’s school career is needed, to establish proficiency and creative use of the language as a social norm. In turn, teachers need training in effective second-language instruction methods, supported by multi-media classroom materials that bring the language to life in daily lessons. We work to support Keres learners by developing effective teaching materials, professional skill training in second-language education methods, and assessment testing data that is integral to implementing best-practice teaching methodologies.
Our partnership with the Acoma Pueblo is still its infancy, but TLC has already initiated the first phase in its six-year plan to revitalize Keres. Over the summer, we collected over 10,500 Keres words to be compiled as the largest ever Keres language dictionary. This dictionary will serve as the basis for a number of additional curricular and teacher training projects currently in development. Additional product development will include sequenced textbooks, mobile apps, and an annual Summer Institute.