Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dragonfly Lecture: JP Harrington

J.P. Harrington

Our first Dragonfly Lecture of 2011, on Jan. 17, will show how one man can make a difference in saving cultures and languages.
And it also will show how sometimes a little detective work is needed in research, too.

Our story starts nearly 100 years ago, with John Peabody Harrington, an ethnologist obsessed with collecting information about the First People.
For more than 40 years starting around 1915, he collected much information on cultures and languages of the Native Americans of California.
At that time, people still remembered many old traditions that have since faded away and spoke languages that are now endangered.
Harrington's fabled field notes and photos take up hundreds of feet in the Library of Congress. He also was among the first to record American Indian languages.

Much of Harrington's work remains unpublished. During his life he kept collecting and collecting, and even kept some of his collecting work secret from his Smithsonian colleagues.
(Read more about his life and work here.)

The UC Davis J.P. Harrington Database Project has worked in recent years to make his work more accessible. This has become crucial to tribal nations working on reviving cultural knowledge and languages.

More than half his work is on now-endangered languages, including the Inland Southern California language of Serrano.

Our lecturer, Carmen Jany, is an assistant professor of Spanish and Linguistics at California State University, San Bernardino.
She has co-taught a Serrano culture and language class at Cal State San Bernardino with our Learning Center president, Cahuilla-Serrano elder Ernest Siva.

Dr. Jany will offer a linguist's perspective on the treasures found in the often-coded, hand-scribbled notes in mixed Spanish and English of J.P. Harrington.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17
WHERE: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning, CA (corner of Hays St. and San Gorgonio Ave.)
WHAT: Donations at the door help the nonprofit save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

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