Today is a federal holiday in the US, known as Columbus Day. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the history of Christopher Columbus and everything he represents to the indigenous peoples of the Americas probably won’t be surprised that there are quite a few protests associated with this holiday.
I’m going take a cue from many activists (as well as the South Dakota state government) and use today to recognize the linguistic heritage of indigenous Americans. Instead of celebrating the man who “discovered” America (ha), I invite you all to join me in celebrating the incredible richness and diversity of the languages of the people who were here for quite a few years before the Santa María rolled in. Read a little bit about the indigenous languages of the Americas on wikipedia. Explore the interactive map of the Americas at Google’s Endangered Languages website. Discover the features at the fabulous and inspirational project called Our Mother Tongues (and send your friends an e-postcard!) And watch this video of an incredible woman who is almost single-handedly reviving that which was lost: