ELL: New SIL Alias

Matthew McDaniel akha at loxinfo.co.th
Mon Sep 20 12:49:03 UTC 1999

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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 19:49:03 +0700
From: Matthew McDaniel <akha at loxinfo.co.th>
Organization: The Akha Heritage Foundation
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Subject: Re: ELL: New SIL Alias
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Oh, but why should anyone be afraid if SIL has a million alias's?  They
are the
epitomy of good honest people with clear intentions which match their
words and
actions and their hands are always on top of the table.  They never
double talk,
never make dealings with dictators to herd and manage tribal peoples and they
have many secular linguists who although maybe privately, depend heavily
on their
data.  Their behavior is so impeccably without blemish that no one
within the
organization would ever dare leave it of conscience nor demand that they
have a
list of ethics for working with tribal peoples.

On occasion they are criticized by ecentric and selfish anthropologists who
probably have no right to be in the field in the first place let alone
claim to
be the judge of heavy handed mission behavior, god forbid that it would
ever be
spotted among SIL.

SIL has worked hard to amass a huge amount of data on language that
makes it a
very powerful organization that could, if they were of the mind, leave
it wide
open to abusing tribal peoples, but there has been not even a rumor of any
mistreatment of tribal peoples anywhere in South America or Central
America by
anyone who had even a lick of credibility, so I hardly think that this
should be
a problem from such a highly reputable organization that is the siamese
twin to
the Wycliffe Bible people.

There is no reason to be afraid of white based mission groups, SIL
included, because the bad treatment of tribal peoples by missions must
have been recorded to have stopped at least 400 years ago.

White Christians and the people who back them have really changed.

Matthew McDaniel

Diego Quesada wrote:

> Dear collegues genuinely concerned with language endangerment:
> I was surprised to find out that in Panama (a country where SIL has a
> murky past), as well as in other countries in Latin America, e.g. Brazil,
> SIL has initiated a new wave of incursions under a new disguise, namely
> the name NUEVAS TRIBUS (Eng. 'New Tribes'). In the community where I do
> fieldwork, in Panama, this new situation has given rise to a split (with
> people in favor, and others against their being there); even the recent
> unexpected, and some time ago undreamed of, change in local authority (a
> deposed King and a newly elected one under very unsual circumstances) has
> been linked to SIL's renewed intent of establishing an ongoing presence
> there. Ever since this interest was made explicit and the deposed King
> expressed his skepticism the community has become increasingly polarized.
> At present, I do not (nor do I need to) go into details about the
> reverberations of this situation in this specific case. But I wonder:
>         a. if other "secular" linguists working in Latin America have
>         experienced similar situations in the communities where they work
>         after this change of name
>         b. if they have any idea (ideas, speculations, rumors, etc.) of
>         what there is behind this new "self-denomination"
>         c. if there are potential dangers involved in the fact that a well
>         known organization suddenly decides to remask itself (imagine the
>         changing its name to something like "New Subverters" or something
>         that). Simply WHY?
> Of course, I could easily ask one of the many SIL colleagues I know and
> with whom I have good professional relations, but that would be like
> asking the thief whether he stole the jewel. I hope to hear from non-SIL
> linguists, at least for now.
> I want to make clear that this posting (and the discussion that it may
> ignite) is not intended to create SIL-phobia or something of that sort; I
> simply want to bring to stage a potential, hitherto unnoticed, factor in
> language endangerment: fooling the community. After all, peoples whose
> languages are dissected of their truly cultural wealth to be downgraded to
> the role of mere artifacts of transculturization, that is mere vehicles
> injection of alien values, are endangered when that injection is given a
> catchy name.
> J. Diego Quesada
> University of Toronto
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Matthew McDaniel
The Akha Heritage Foundation
386/3 Sailom Joi Rd
Maesai, Chiangrai, 57130
Mobile Phone Number:  Sometimes hard to reach while in Mountains.

US Address:

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

The Akha Heritage Foundation
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Salem OR 97304

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Wells Fargo Bank
Akha Heritage Foundation
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Keizer Branch # 1842  04
4990 N. River Road.
Keizer, Oregon,  97303 USA
ABA # 121000248

Or In Thailand:

Matthew  Duncan McDaniel
Acc. # 3980240778
Bangkok Bank Ltd.
Maesai Branch

Web Site:

mailto:akha at loxinfo.co.th

Discussion Groups:
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