A cultural specialist explained to me that songs in Lingít donʼt always help teach the language because the melody does not align with the high and low tones of the language.
Telling stories, not reading them, is a traditional way of acquiring and passing on the traditions and history of the Lingít people.
Why not use the musicality of the Lingít language to create a new song that reinforces the high and low tones of the language, while helping bring the Southeast Traditional Tribal Values to life for students and teachers. These values, along with those identified by Sealaska Heritage Institute, form the content of the Haa Kusteeyí: Our Way of Life song, which is not a traditional Lingít song, but rather one created from the sounds and rhythm of the language. In doing so, I hope to demonstrate how the musicality of the Lingít language can serve as the basis for creating new music that directly supports Lingít language learning. Through story and song, this unit strives to bring these values alive for all children by singing them in Lingít and exploring their meanings through traditional oral narratives.
The five overarching values form the chorus:
Haa Shuká (Our Past, Present, Future)
Haa Ḵusteeyí (Our Way of Life)
Haa Latseen (Our Strength, Leadership)
Haa Aaní (Our Land): Honoring & Utilizing our Land
Wooch Yax̱ (Balance, Reciprocity and Respect)
The tribal values detailed under Haa Kusteeyí will serve as the verses, which will be taught two or three at a time each year of an elementary childʼs life. Language learning demands long-term practice and repetition, so the Haa Ḵusteeyí song is a cumulative song in which verses sung in the earlier grades are constantly reviewed. Where possible, I placed values where they might be most developmentally supportive (i.e. Patience in Kindergarten, Courage in 5th grade). In doing so, 5th graders can sing all of the verses they learned throughout their elementary school career as part of their promotion ceremony, symbolizing how these values and the wisdom of our elders will carry them throughout school and life.