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A silhouette of a man with a ponytail and aviator glasses faces left, against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol Building. He leans into a microphone and holds a musical instrument.

A performer at the 1992 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

  • Center Launches Archival Mentorship Program for Indigenous and Minoritized Languages

    The Language Vitality Initiative at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage invites members of existing Indigenous or minoritized language efforts to apply for a virtual mentorship program to hone their skills in navigating digital libraries and archives while contributing to language work. The mentorship is two to four months and part time.

    Within the Smithsonian’s various archives are rich collections of materials from Indigenous and minority language communities. The objects on display in the museums represent only a small fraction of the institution’s holdings. However, navigating the landscape of digital collections, libraries, and museum holdings at the Smithsonian can be difficult. To better support the work of current language revitalization efforts, we have established the Language and Archives Mentorship Program to increase confidence in database navigation, rights agreements, and foster relationships involved in collections access.

    The mentorship program offers a combination of training in digital collection access and networking opportunities for those working within Indigenous or minoritized language efforts, overseen by Mary Linn, curator of language and cultural vitality, and Hali Dardar, language reclamation program coordinator. Mentees will learn about Smithsonian archival protocols, gain experience with the Smithsonian’s and other virtual collections access systems, and discuss intellectual property, copyright, and archival access policies.

    “The program hopes to encourage mentees to access materials within the Smithsonian and other digital language collections through establishing relationships with staff, increasing familiarity with Smithsonian digital systems, and building fluency with interpreting archival permissions,” Linn says.

    This program is fully virtual and has a minimum time commitment of five hours per week, with a flexible schedule. Applicants can be any age over fifteen. Please visit our Jobs & Internships page for additional information on the mentorship program.

    To apply online, visit and create an account. After selecting Internship, specify the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and indicate Language and Archives Mentorship Program. The application period is rolling, but we encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible.

    If you have questions about the application process, please contact intern coordinator Arlene Reiniger at For questions regarding the mentorship program, please contact Hali Dardar at

    About the Language Vitality Initiative

    With Indigenous and minoritized languages under threat, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s Language Vitality Initiative supports community-driven language reclamation efforts. Our research promotes language use in new and traditional contexts and strengthens engagement in cultural heritage wellness. We work with digital and emerging media to promote unique voices and worldviews. We seek to educate new generations of community language practitioners and linguists through informal and formal workshops and institutes. All our work is used to educate majority-language users about the benefits of living in a multilingual world.

  • Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.