On June 26, 2013, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will open to the public, located at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The festival has three major themes this year: The Will to Adorn; Hungarian Heritage; and One World, Many Voices. The latter will be produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage together with the Enduring Voices Project by National Geographic, UNESCO and the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative. Speakers of many endangered languages from all around the world will be attending the festival to celebrate their origins and share their experiences. The aim of the festival will be to promote the multicultural nature of the world and provide an opportunity for the public to come into contact with languages and cultures they have probably never even heard of.
K. David Harrison, curator of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, has stated his excitement by pointing out that the festival will become one of the most linguistically diverse spots in the entire world for a period of ten days. He further stated his belief that the festival will inspire everyone to value diversity and will help provide a context that will facilitate the exchange of ideas about language protection. Harrison believes each language provides a unique worldview that can help solve humanity’s problems, which is why they should be preserved.
What Is There to See?
During the festival, the public will come in contact with speakers of North American ancient languages such as Penobscot, from Maine, and Siletz Dee-ni, from Oregon. Speakers from more remote areas such as India and Bolivia will also attend to represent their own languages: Koro and Kallawaya respectively. The Koro people will build a sokrou ngin, which is a spirit house made out of bamboo that is built to ensure a good harvest. Bud Lane, the only fluent speaker of Siletz Dee-ni, will be performing typical dances and demonstrating the people’s basket-making skills. The Tuvans people of Siberia will be giving shows of throat singing, and other arts like stone-carving. They will also be showing the digital tools they rely on to preserve their own tongue: an online dictionary and a program to learn it, together with an iPhone app. Finally, the Kalmyks, from European Russia, will be showing their music and dances, and will also hold a story-telling event.