Dr. Ashleigh M. Surma
I’m a non-Indigenous, white settler who resides on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee peoples.
As a Senior Linguist at The Language Conservancy in Bloomington, Indiana, I have assisted language revitalization projects for several Tribes across North America.
I earned my Ph.D. in Linguistics with a focus in Language Documentation & Conservation at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa in 2022. I also received a B.Sc. in American Indian Studies from Black Hills State University in 2014.
The research supporting my dissertation considers reciprocity in language work. I question how reciprocal relationships ought to be conceived, practiced, and maintained between non-Indigenous outsider linguists and Indigenous communities in Canada.
By foregrounding the experiences and insights of language workers, I hope assist outsider linguists in practicing appropriate, reciprocal language work with and within Indigenous communities in Canada.
I’ve been a part of language documentation and revitalization endeavors in the United States and Canada with individuals from communities around the world.
Much of my research has involved Indigenous languages spoken in Canada, specifically those spoken by Dene Peoples. I have contributed to language documentation and revitalization projects with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in in Yukon Territory and the Dene Tha’ First Nation in northern Alberta.
I volunteered for five years as a classroom assistant and taught language documentation and computer literacy at the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) at the University of Alberta.
At the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, I served as co-director of the Language Documentation Training Center, an organization that trains speakers of underdocumented languages in the skills of language documentation and spreads awareness about linguistic diversity and language endangerment.
I was also a co-founder of HI-SKILLS: Hawaiʻi School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society. HI-SKILLS was an after-school program that put students at the center of linguistic discovery while learning valuable research skills. Our workshops gave participants the chance to appreciate the role of language in society, create their own language projects, and, of course, have fun!
University of Alberta
INT-D 318: Techniques for Endangered Language Documentation
(Instructor; co-taught with Atticus Harrigan)
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
LING 102: Introduction to the Study of Language
LING 105: Language Endangerment, Globalization & Indigenous Peoples
LING 150: Language in Hawai‘i and the Pacific
(TA; supervised by Jacob Terrell, PhD)
Black Hills State University
LAK 102: Lakota language II
(TA; supervised by Prof. Rosalie Little Thunder)
Department of Linguistics
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
1890 East-West Road, Moore Hall 569
Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
“This is our work, to discover what we can give. Isn’t this the purpose of education,Robin Wall Kimmerer,
to learn the nature of your own gifts
and how to use them for
good in the world?”