National Breath of Life Apprenticeship Program

Through ongoing assessment efforts and our experiences organizing National Breath of Life workshops since 2011, we have gained important insights about the challenges standing in the way of communities developing archival databases to support their language revitalization. We have found that communities reach a point of readiness for different phases of the philology work at different times and paces. We recognize that the advanced phase of data processing involved in Native American philology work is iterative, requiring adjustments to work methods and research principles at the level of data processing and organization. At a practical level, this process may take 1-3 years of 10-20 hours a week of hands-on work during which continual technical support and mentoring are needed. Finally, in order to integrate this work to effectively support long-term language revitalization efforts, a significant capacity-building effort on the part of the language community is necessary. Capacity building takes time, resources, and leadership. Community Archivists are often the ones who lead the community in building a path for sustainable archive-based research for revitalization.

To address these challenges, we’ve created the National Breath of Life Apprenticeship Program for communities who have demonstrated readiness and are committed to developing the resources needed to move towards a more advanced stage of archival work. The apprenticeship training is designed to provide tailored and advanced training to increase the usability of community archives to support language revitalization. The apprenticeship program provides mentoring to Community Archivists in the use of their ILDA archive, dictionary, and apps to directly support language revitalization needs within community educational programming. Through this apprenticeship program, Community Archivists are funded for up to 24 months of advanced data processing work with direct guidance and support from the National Breath of Life Archives Development Trainer. This apprenticeship is not only intended to provide support and guidance to Community Archivists but also to facilitate the advancement of data processing and program implementation as part of a larger community-directed capacity building effort.

The National Breath of Life Apprenticeship Program is currently supported through 2024 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

We are currently supporting 13 apprentices from the following 10 tribal communities:
  • Comanche Nation
  • Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Menominee Nation
  • Mutsun Language Community
  • Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region
  • Nuu-wee-ya’ (Oregon Dene) Language Community
  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
  • Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
  • Tongva Language Community

While we are not currently accepting applications for the program, we welcome inquiries about the use of ILDA for community-directed revitalization efforts. Please reach out to us at for more information.