Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Gritzner

Commitee Members

Keith Bosak, Sarah Halvorson


Indigenous geography, Indigenous knowledge, language, Nepal, resilience


University of Montana


The majority of the world’s languages are in danger of extinction within this century. Of the more than 6000 languages in the world, 4000-5000 are spoken by Indigenous peoples. Accompanying the loss of languages is the loss of the capacity for these peoples to transmit those aspects of their environmental knowledge systems which are embedded and expressed in their languages. The Kaike speakers of Tichurong in Dolpa, Nepal represent one of these endangered language communities, with approximately 800 speakers remaining. The purpose of this research was to engage Kaike speakers in an exploration of the relationships among their language, environment, and knowledge systems. Collaborative approaches based upon dialogue, informal interviews, participant observation, and participatory mapping exercises formed the basis of the research. Documentation, discussion, and mapping focused on place names and sacred sites as particularly illuminating repositories of environmental knowledge expressed in language. The maps generated in community mapping sessions allowed Kaike speakers the opportunity to articulate their perception of the relationship between landscape and language as well as express their sense of and attachment to place, offering visual mechanisms for transmission of cultural-environmental knowledge. Learning from the experiences of one endangered language community, this project also aids in assessing the larger implications of Indigenous language loss for sustainable development strategies and maintenance of Indigenous knowledge systems.



© Copyright 2009 Corrie Maya Daurio