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Pike Scholar receives Firebird Foundation funding

Village leaders with research team (Yang, fourth from right)

Village leaders with research team (Yang, fourth from right)

Pike Center is pleased to report that Dr. Cathryn Yang, one of the participants in our Pike Scholars program, has been awarded $5,557 as a Fellowship for the Documentation of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge by the Firebird Foundation. As a step in the process of preparing her successful proposal, she received funding for a research planning project on “Documentation of Lolopo Yi Oral Literature” from the Pike Center’s Small Grants program (see announcement of award). That grant allowed her to do background research and planning with the Lolopo Yi community, along with Xiaobao Zhao and Xiufang Pu who will be co-investigators in the full project. Dr. Yang teaches linguistics as part of SIL Yunnan's partnership with the Institute for Sino-Tibetan Language Studies in Chenggong, China where Zhao is a student.

The Lolopo are a people of China who number about 380,000. While the language is still being transmitted to the younger generation, much of its oral literature is not. Added to this is the fact that currently very little documentation exists of this oral art. Unless efforts are taken to preserve it while the elders who know it are still living, Lolopo oral literature will soon be irrevocably lost to its speakers and to wider humanity, forever. In the project, many performances of Lolopo oral art will be recorded, annotated (via transcription, translation, and other commentary), archived, and shared with the Lolopo community and the world.

In communicating this news to Pike Center, Dr. Yang added these words of appreciation: “Many thanks to Pike Center for supporting our team during the application preparation process. I wouldn't have considered going for this grant if it wasn't for the inspiration of Ken Pike and the Pike Scholars program. Thanks so much for challenging my thinking about how my scholarship and efforts can be used to help communities thrive in their language use.”

Gary Simons