Miskitu Language and Culture
- Learn the indigenous language Miskitu
- Earn 6 hours of academic credit
- FLAS-eligible program
This FLAS-eligible, University of Kansas summer study abroad program offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to learn Miskitu, an indigenous language, spoken by nearly 200,000 indigenous Miskitu people on the Honduran and Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast, and learn about the indigenous and Afro-descendant cultures. Students will further learn about the language and culture by participating in cultural activities and excursions to other cities. Nicaragua has a lot to offer, but because it is a developing country, students should be prepared to face unexpected challenges that come with developing countries, such as periodic lack of hot water or electricity.
Students will have the opportunity to experience different cultures and aspects of Nicaragua. The program will begin on the Central Pacific side of Nicaragua in the colonial city of Granada where classes will be held at the Casa Xalteva Education and Cultural Center. After a week in Granada, the group will travel to the port city of Puerto Cabezas, known as Bilwi in Miskitu, which is in the heart of the indigenous communities. Puerto Cabezas has a unique blend of mestizos, indigenous, and Afro-Caribbean culture.
The program is pending approval from the International Travel Review Committee.
Six hours of undergraduate or graduate credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. The language courses meet Monday-Friday and the independent research course meets twice weekly. Courses are taught by KU staff and native Miskitu instructors.
KU Latin American Studies majors: the courses will fulfill upper-division elective requirements.
KU Indigenous Studies in Latin America (ISLA) minors: the courses will count towards the minor.
The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship is given by U.S. universities that have FLAS funding.
Non-FLAS funded students will enroll in one 3 credit hour language course and one 3 credit hour independent study course from the courses below.
In the language course, students will learn Miskito phonology and grammar and work with local Miskitu speakers to practice conversational skills. Additionally, students will build a corps of vocabulary words to understand the discursive domains of gender, race, ethnicity, and kinship in Miskitu society.
- LAA 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu
- LING 575 The Structure of Miskitu
For the independent study course, students will be introduced to the geography, history, and cultural anthropology of the Atlantic Coast, a region that remains culturally distinct from the Nicaraguan nation. Students are required to complete an independent ethnographic research project on a topic of their choice and give an oral presentation presenting their findings.
- LAA 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Independent Research on the Miskito Coast
- ANTH 291 Study Abroad Topics: Peoples and Cultures of the Miskitu Coast
FLAS-funded students will enroll in two of the following 3 credit hour language courses, depending on previous Miskitu study.
LAA 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu I
LAA 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu II
LAA 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu III
LING 575 The Structure of Miskitu
In Granada, students will live with at least one other student in host families; three meals a day are provided. In Puerto Cabezas, students will be in double or triple occupancy accommodations at Casa Museo, a family-run bed and breakfast. Breakfasts and weekday lunches are provided.
In Granada planned cultural activities include a city tour, visit to Las Isletas (islands on Lake Nicaragua), Laguna de Apoyo (a crater lagoon), and Masaya Volcano. In Puerto Cabezas, students will journey into Indian communities along the Coco River and other coastal Miskitu villages and participate in other cultural activities.
Open to students from accredited U.S. colleges or universities. Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition. A Spanish background is not required, but highly encouraged because students will live with a host family in Granada.
Laura H. Herlihy’s research has been with the bi-national (Honduras and Nicaragua) Miskitu peoples since the 1990s and she speaks their language fluently.