The quest of Shiman-chu: Questioning the absolutes of language, culture, and Being

Satoru Nakagawa
Undertaken on Tokunoshima, an island colonized by Japan in the 17th century, this research speaks to the critical question of the loss of Indigenous languages and the resultant loss of ethnic pluralism. In general, people on Tokunoshima claim that Shima-guchi (language), Shima-culture, and Shiman-chu identity on Tokunoshima are being lost (language, culture, and identity or LCI shift). In order to gauge the accuracy and implications of these claims, LCI shift was investigated using a
more » ... using a combination of surveys (N=3509) and interviews (N=40). In keeping with the fact that Tokunoshima people are an Indigenous people within a colonized territory, this mixed methods study was undertaken within and shaped by an Indigenous Tokunoshima research paradigm, one which honours the voices of the participants and elicits particular reciprocities and obligations on the part of the Indigenous researcher, necessitating multiple return trips over a four-year period. Overall, the survey and interview results alike showed a positive correlation between participants' age and their Shima-guchi fluency, practice, and knowledge of Shima-culture. Interviewees, many of them leaders, seniors, and experienced educators expressed the importance of passing down "Shima no kokoro." Translated as "the heart of the island," this refers to island life as expressed in language and culture. This study concludes that while residents of Tokunoshima are losing Shima-guchi and culture, Shiman-chu identity remains strong. Finally, it is clear that the majority of participants in the study want to retain Shima-guchi and Shima-culture for their own and future generations. Acknowledgement
doi:10.7939/r3dd3v fatcat:pkrgxh7qzbabzohzuasrstccva