Story last updated at 7/3/2016 - 6:20 pm
The Tsimshian people are fighting to save their language, Sm’algyax — and they’re fighting part of the battle with t-shirts designed by father and son David A. and David R. Boxley.
The money will go to the projects of The Haayk Foundation, which consists of David R. Boxley (cochair) Gavin Hudson (chair) and Kandi McGilton (secretary and treasurer), all of Metlakatla. The organization’s main goal, David R. said, is language preservation and revitalization; one of their goals is to sponsor free Sm’algyax classes for Tsimshian people.
The foundation also supports culturally specific projects; recently, for example, it brought Delores Churchill to teach Metlakatla’s style of cedar bark weaving, in partnership with the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. The foundation is also working to digitize tapes of elders recorded speaking Sm’algyax, in essence starting a library.
Since the three started the foundation, “We’re finding out… the process of saving an endangered language it’s nothing we could ever do by ourselves,” Boxley said. “It (the state of the language) is an emergency…. Hopefully we can have an influence and help create some young people who speak our language, so it doesn’t die. If we lose it, we lose a really important part of our identity.”
Quoting his father, David R. said “we’re all in this canoe together.”
“It (working to save Sm’algyax) is probably the most important thing we’ll ever do,” Boxley said. “The foundation is something we hope will help, but we’re very aware that it’s going to be a big job, and it’s going to take the rest of our lives. We’re going to keep pushing forward, because I don’t want to say that my generation didn’t do what it needed to… so that somebody’s actually speaking it in 100 years.”
To buy a shirt, go to https://www.booster.com/tsimshian. They’ll be for sale until July 8.