SSILA is happy to announce the 2019 Victor Golla Prize was awarded to Ofelia Zepeda. The Victor Golla Prize recognizes the significant history of both linguistic scholarship and service to the scholarly community, with service that expands the quality and/or dissemination of such scholarship.
Ofelia Zepeda’s contributions to our field include her own scholarly work and the ongoing contributions of the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), which she co-founded and of which she continues to serve as director. Through forty years of AILDI, she has greatly increased dissemination and access to linguistic through countless Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from around the world have been introduced to linguistics, language pedagogy, literature development, language documentation, and approaches to language reclamation.
She has been a particularly effective advocate for language policies that support Indigenous language communities and the work of SSILA, such as the Native American Languages Act, which she co-authored, and policies at the state level that allow Indigenous language communities to certify their own speakers as language teachers.
The Victor Golla Prize also seeks to honor those who strive to carry out interdisciplinary scholarship, combining excellent linguistic scholarship in one or more other allied fields, such as anthropology, education, history, or literature. Ofelia Zepeda’s work is profoundly interdisciplinary. As a renowned poet who writes in Tohono O’odham and English, she has found connections between documentary linguistics, linguistic analysis and the verbal arts. This is a particularly powerful combination for communities whose primary language modality is oral, and it helps connect the worlds of linguistic theory and practice to the practices of art and culture in ways that allow her students to engage in scholarship and creative expression in new and innovative ways. More about Ofelia Zepeda and some of her poems can be found at The Poetry Foundation and Poetry at Sangham.
Calls for nominations for the 2020 Victor Golla Prize will be in April. More information can be found at SSILA Victor Golla Prize.