Indigenous Language Activists

Andrés Ozuna
Yshyr Chamacoco tribe of Paraguay, 2009-

Mr. OzunaAndrés Ozuna is an Yshyr Chamacoco language activist from Karcha Bahlut, Paraguay. With the assistance of an Enduring Voices language technology kit, Andrés has produced a bilingual Yshyr-Spanish book on traditional plant uses among the Yshyr (Ishiro ôreyuwo poruwo/Sabiduria de los Ishir del Chaco). He has also recently written a short book on the Yshyr concept of truth in the Yshyr Chamacoco language. At the Enduring Voices language revitalization workshop in Santa Fe, Andrés produced another small booklet and the first-ever digital storybook in the Yshyr Chamacoco language. He is the primary figure behind the Yshyr Chamacoco Talking Dictionary. Today he is continuing his tireless campaign to promote his native language and working on a range of different projects in Yshyr Chamacoco.

Published Materials: The Ɨshɨr Concept of Truth


Rudolf Raward
Matugar Panau tribe of Papua New Guinea 2009-

Mr. RawardRudolf Raward is a leader in the Panau-speaking community of Matugar village, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. A former outstanding soccer goalkeeper, Rudolf now is Director of the SAKY Organization, which is devoted to the promotion and preservation of the traditional culture and language of his community. Panau is spoken by fewer than 500 speakers¬, has almost no child-age speakers and is rarely used even by adults and elders. Panau is spoken only in Matugar village and is therefore a highly endangered and unique language. At the Santa Fe workshop, Rudolf produced a digital storybook and the first ever book published in the Panau language.

Published Materials: Ngau Rudolf



Dr. Gracious Temsen
Khasi tribe, Minor Varieties of Khasi Project 2010-

Dr. TemsenDr. Gracious M. Temsen is a member of the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya state, in the northeast of India. She is a professional linguist, the only member of her tribe working as a professor of linguistics. She is currently based at University of Hyderabad. Her work focuses on the description and analysis of her mother tongue, the Khasi language, which represents its own sub-group of the Mon-Khmer language family. According to Dr. Temsen, Khasi is actually a cluster of closely related dialects and sister languages, and the smallest ones are rapidly being lost. Dr. Temsen produced a short digital storybook based on a traditional Khasi folktale, as well as a short print book at the Santa Fe workshop. As a Living Tongues Institute Fellow, Dr. Temsen is conducting a study of the minor Khasi ‘dialects’ or sister languages in the important and still poorly known Khasic subgroup of Mon-Khmer/Austroasiatic and a comparative Talking Dictionary of the Khasic Languages.

Published Materials: The Tiger and The Fox



Mark Franco
Winnemem Wintu tribe of California 2010-

Mr. FrancoMark Franco is Headman of the Winnemem Wintu community based at the Winnemem Wintu village located outside of Redding, CA. An activist for the Winnemem Wintu community, Mark is an expert in a diverse array of topics ranging from indigenous rights, water access and development, restoration of the environment and return of the salmon to their traditional territories, now prevented from reaching the Winnemem or Middle Water (aka McCloud River) by a dam. Mark is also spearheading the revitalization efforts for the Winnemem Wintu language. At the workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico led by the Indigenous Language Institute and supported by National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project and Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Mark produced a beautiful short film and a small booklet in the revitalizing Winnemem Wintu.

Published Materials: Counting Booklet & Waimem’s First Mocassins



Dr. Bhubaneshwar Sawaiyan
Ho tribe, Ho Language Project 2008-2010

Dr. Sawaiyan Bhubeneshwar Sawaiyan is a Ho language activist from Jharkhand state, India. An expert in tribal journalism, Dr. Sawaiyan produced a digital storybook on the traditional wedding practices of the Ho people, who represent a large tribal minority group whose language belongs to the Munda language family.

Dr. Sawaiyan also produced a short booklet in the Ho language at the Santa Fe workshop held in April, 2010. He is currently is the personal secretary to Indian Government Minister, Dr. Ram Dayal Munda, the most prominent and senior government official representing a tribal community in India.

Published Materials: Hermit Story & Ho Web Sketch

Link to the Ho Talking Dictionary (username & password required)

Dr. Taiwo Opeyemi Agoyi,
Akoko Languages Project, 2013 – present

Taiwo_AgoyiDr. Taiwo Opeyemi Agoyi did her first degree in the University of Ilorin Nigeria where she obtained a BA (Ed) in Language Art (Yoruba), 2nd Class Upper Division, in 1992. In 1997, she obtained an MA in Yoruba Language, and joined Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria) as an Assistant Lecturer in 2001. She obtained her Ph.D in Linguistics in 2001 in the Department of Linguistics and Languages, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, under the training of Professor Oladele Awobuluyi and Professor Francis O. Oyebade.

The title of her thesis was “The Phonology of Àbèsàbèsì Vowel Harmony”. Her research has since focused on the linguistic description and documentation of Akoko languages. She received theoretical training in language documentation and tools for documentation and data analysis at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London, UK), as well as at the University of Uyo (UNI UYO), Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) as a member of the PMI2 collaboration between the three universities.

She is currently a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Language, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. She is a member of Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN); Niger-Congo Language Congress; West African Linguistic Society (WALS); and the World Congress of African Linguistics (WALC).


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