My mind is filled this morning with thoughts about a lecture I will be giving tonight. Months ago a colleague invited me to give a “Professor’s Choice” lecture for members of Osher Lifelong Learning as well as the general public. I agreed, but struggled with the question of what to talk about. Should I dig out old papers, delivered at conferences long ago? Should I talk about my current social justice activism around issues of climate change? I raised this question with my spiritual nurture group and came to the idea of telling my story, or at least telling A story about my academic work. My musing about this has led me to see the threads that connect that work with my current concerns.
“Indigenous Language Revitalization” is the stated topic, and I hope to move beyond the objective, observable “facts” and get to the deeper issues, such as historical trauma that disrupted the lives of Alaska Native people in so many ways, including the loss of the ancestral languages. I also want to hold out the very real possibility that Native ways of knowing, embedded in the indigenous languages, can teach us how to survive. That’s what I believe, but is that my story to tell? We’ll see. I have a number of personal stories to share and hope to weave them into the larger narrative in a way that makes sense, at least to me. This exercise, after all, is a kind of review of how I spent some 35 years of my life.
I have never before, in a large public setting, attempted to talk somewhat extemporaneously rather than read from a script. I pray that words will come from the heart and not just the head.