Miskitu Language and Culture


Image of a woman walking in Nicaragua
This 6-week program gives students the opportunity to study the rich culture and language of the indigenous Miskitu people in Belize.
Location: Honduras
Language of Instruction: EnglishMiskitu
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led

  • Learn the indigenous language Miskitu
  • Earn 6 hours of academic credit
  • FLAS-eligible program 

Honduras

Students will have the opportunity to experience different cultures and aspects of Honduras. The program will take place on Roatan Island, which is north of mainland Honduras. Professor Herlihy led the program to Roatan in 2019.

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. Honduras 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. Given the touristy nature of Roatan, this may not be as prevalent.

The program is pending approval from the Department of Education and the International Travel Review Committee at KU.

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.

  • LAC 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 Miskitu people. Students are required to complete an independent ethnographic research project on a topic of their choice and give an oral presentation presenting their findings. 

  • LAC 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Independent Research on the Miskito Coast
  • ANTH 462 Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology

FLAS-funded students will enroll in two of the following 3 credit hour language courses, depending on previous Miskitu study.

LAC 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu I

LAC 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu II

LAC 302/602 Topics in Latin American Area Studies: Spoken Miskitu III

LING 575 The Structure of Miskitu

Students will stay in hotels or apartments. Some meals will be provided.

The group will be at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for the first few days. Students will learn about Belizean history and culture as well as participate in walks in the jungle. Most of the program will be spent in the Hopkins, a Garifuna village. Students will learn about the various indigenous groups living in Belize, including the Garifuna and Maya.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to students from accredited U.S. colleges or universities. Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

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.