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March 26, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-03-26

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versity Professor K e n n e t h
Pike, the Summer Institute of Lin-
guistics (SIL) has achieved a re-
putation for excellent descriptive
work among primitive tribal peo-
ples around the world.
Like the Roman god Janus, how-
ever, the Summer Institute has a
second face. More than a scientific
corporation, the SIL's alter iden-
tity is Wycliffe Bible Translators,
Inc. (WBT), a non-denominational
Protestant missionary organization
to which it is closely linked. Both
linquistics and missionaries, SIL
workers go into the field to intro-
duce the Bible to the societies
whose languages they learn.
Probably out of respect for Prof.
Pike, who is spoken of highly by
those who know him, the Summer
Institute's operations are not much
discussed around the University.
But the subject is more than em-
barrassing, because in practice the
Summer Institute has combined
linguistic techniques with religion
to destroy the cultures of the peo-
ple among whom it works.
THE DAMAGE has been more
than spiritual.
In Latin America, the Wycliffe
translators have worked closely
with the military to extend the
control of national governments
over Indians and their lands. And
in one celebrated case in Ecuador,
WBT/SIL actually cleared the way,
with air and radio support, f o r
U.S. oil companies moving in to
dispossess Indians of their terri-
The Summer Institute was foud-
ed in the mid-1930s to Christianize
by means of science. A school
and a field organization, it holds
training sessions every summer
at the 'Universities of Oklahoma,
North Dakota, Washington and Tex-
The institutes are attended by
500 people a year, many of whom
go overseas to join the 3000 work-
ers which the organization main-
tains in 25 countries around t h e
world. Some SIL translators con-
tinue their training in graduate
schools, including the linguistics
department at this University.
PIKE FIRST came to the SIL
as a student in 1935. A pioneer in
the descriptive method and win-
ner last week of the University's
Distinguished Professorship award,
he has been the organization's pre-
sident since 1942.
The Summer Institute and i t s
affiliate are governed by overlap-
ping boards of directors, adopting
whichever identity is required to
further their purpose. At the Uni-
versity we know the organization
as the SIL. The Summer Institute
makes contracts with host govern-
ments, organizes the field work and
takes charge of the training ses-
sions. The Wycliffe corporation,
which was started by the SIL in
1942, recruits field volunteers and
represents the organization to the

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V. . . . . .
"The Summer Institute has combined linguistic technique with religion to
destroy the cultures of the people among whom it works.. . In Ecuador the
Summer Institute has cleared the way, with air and radio support, for U.S.
oil companies moving in to dis posses Indians of their land."
.......... . n....v.,......r r....4.... . ....nsr...si ,r .. ........... is..;............v:::. ...... r.::."a.......4.........:,.".:.......*. . . . . . . . . .
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patterns of thought an i speech,
substituting tradition il parables
and vocabulary for literal biblical
In Latin American count:ies the
Summer Institute's operations are
coordinated from base camps in the
hinterlands. Bustling outposts of
North American civilization, they
feature airstrips, tidy codnnounds
of suburban-style housing, and in-
digenous servants. The bases are
staffed with support personnel of
various kinds, including linguistic
specialists to analyze Jata brought
back from the field. About hale the
SIL workers are linguists, the rest
working in education, medicine, or
technical capacities.

The October-December 1969 is-
sue of Wycliff's Translation maga-
zine explains the technology of the
operation in greater detail.
"A TECHNIQUE has beern devel-
oped which allows us to carry on
a two-way conversation while fly-
ing overhead . . . An expandable
radio transmitter built in,- a bas-
ket is dropped. A wing-mounted
speaker carries voices of Aucas in
the plane to those on the ground,
while a receiver in the plane picks
up ground conversatio i. This is
tape recorded and studied after
each flight. Certain key names
have been learned. Cailing peopae
by name has done mucn to win the

the powers-that-be and the argu-
ment of the lesser evil comes
strangely from these o 'ierwie fer-
vent idealists, wio by their actions
encourage exploitative and ruinous
FIVE HUNDRED years ago the
surface of the globe was co !ered
with thousands of set s-iffi :ient
human societies, as rich and mul-
ti-colored in their diversit" as the
plumage of tropical birds. Now,
after an unprecedented expansion
originating in Western Europe,
nearly all have been wiped away
by the advance of a pitiloss world

The Summer Institute missionary
effort is only part of the last cam-
paign against traditional societies.
It is only a new tactic in a cen-
turies-long collusion between ytate,
commercial and religious interests
to pacify and destroy ,he last bar-
riers to the world-wide worship of
Mammon. What makes it espec-
ially perverted is the use of ling-
uistics and the university as ac-
complices to ethnocide.
Substantial portions of the pre-
ceding article were drawn from a
paper by Laurie Hart which ap-
peared in the Dec. 1973 issue of the
NACLA Latin American and Em-
pire Report. NACLA is the North
A m e r i c a n Congress on Latin
A merica

Eighty-Four Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

420 Maynard St. Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104

News Phone: 764-0552

es as a convenient rationalization
of the WBT/SIL's activities, n o t
only for the organization itself but
also for host governments. This
is particularly true in Latin Amer-
ican countries, whose governing re-
gimes could not otherwise cooper-
ate with Protestant missionaries
from the United States. Extending
its services to host governments
whenever possible, the SIL's ling-
uistic investigations and mission-
izing are valuable because they
extend the state's control into
frontier areas.
The Summer Institute is pecul-
iarly attractive to Latin American
regimes because of its subsidiary
Jungle Aviation and Radio Serv-
ice (JAARS). Ranging through re-
mote jungle areas, JAARS main-
tains a fleet of 30 aircraft in Latin
America. It has provided trans-
port and communication services
for army units moving against In-
Pere have included the Ministers
of Education, War, Health a n d
Government, as well as the com-
manding generals of the Peruvian
Army and Air Force. Besides pro-
viding support for remote military
outposts, JAARS trains mechanics
and pilots for the Peruvian armyv.
In Columbia during 1970 the
Summer Institute provided air and
radio support, as well as interpret-
ers, to police and army u n -ts
supressing an armedresur:ection
by Guahibo Indians. The Guahibo
had taken up arms against na-
tionals who were settling on their
lands in a U.S-. supported land re-
form program. The government's
military operation was direrted
from the WBT SIL base at Loma-
linda, originally donated to the
-nissionaries by a Columbian ar-nv
In Ecuador the Summer Insatute
has worked closely with Gulf and
Texaco to open up Indian lands to
exploitation. The most well-known

Savages? In Latin America these
Christian missionaries hound peo-
ple off their land with airplanes so
that their fellow countrymen can
invade to drill for oil. In S o u t h
Vietnam the Summer Inati ute has
worked closely with the U.S. 'Sai-
gon government. In an article in
the Oct.-Dec. 1971 issue of Trans-
lation entitled "Hope for Vietnam--
Right Now," a Wycliffe writer of-
fers the following hope:
"GOD USES military troips, but
He has other methods also.
"God turned the tables in Indo-
nesia on the eve of a Marxist re-
volution, and the spiritual response
of thousands turning to Christ has
been tremendous. Cambodia put
all missionaries out of their coun-
try in 1965, and it seemed t h a t
God's work there was finished
Suddenly - a coup d'etat and a
new responsiveness to missionary
The Wycliffe writer apparently
doesn't think it relevant that the
turning of the tables in indonesia
involved the slaughter; of half a
million people.
According to Wycliffe s State-
ment of Doctrine, its volunteers
must believe in, a'ioo-ther
things, the fall of man, his con-
sequent moral depravity: the eter-
nal life of the saved and the eter-
nal punishment of the >i ; and the
divine inspiration and authority of
Wycliffe translators teacn indig-
enous peoples, for the first time,
that they are in a state of moral
depravity and must bear whatever
oppressions are visited upon them,
in the image of the suffering
Jesus. The translators teach them
to despise their own culture, which
has damned them to eternaJl pun-
ishment, and to adulate that of the'


It's time to stop sports sexism

THE BATTLE AGAINST sexism has fin-
ally invaded the realm of collegiate
sports. Recent regulations put out by the
Department of Health, Education and
Welfare require that publicly-supported
institutions (such as The University)
must provide equal athletic facilities and
opportunities for both sexes in order to
be eligible for further public assistance.
Predictably, there has been an outcry
from athletic administrators - an outcry
which is dangerous precisely because it is
based on an important truth. College
sports are in deep financial trouble. More
than 500 out of the 700 NCAA institutions
are dropping money on their sports pro-
grams. Competitive and intramural fa-
cilities and activities are being shredded
nationwide. It sounds incredible when
the word comes from someone like pros-
perous Don Canham, but it's true.
sufficient excuse for athletic depart-
News: Dan Bugerman, Jack Krost, Mike
Pennanen, Jeff Rivkin, Judy Ruskin,
James Schuster, Sue Stephenson, Becky

ments to continue to operate overwhelm-
ingly in favor of the male sex: insuffici-
ent because it's an excuse which will
continue for the rest of the century, and,
prevent progress in the meantime.
With a fixed resource base, any increase
in the allocation for women's sports will
necessarily (and unfortunately) have to
come out of the remaining sports activi-
ties. If woman are to receive scholarships
for their athletic talents - as men have
for 40 years - the number of male schol-
arships is going to have to fall. If wom-
en are to have decent locker room facili-
ties, the football team might have to do
. without a few of its amenities.
Some women's sports can be self-sus-
taining. Women's basketball consistently
outdraws the male variety in Iowa, main-
ly because it's a different type of game
which more people enjoy watching.
BUT THE ISSUE runs deeper than this.
In the competitive sports world, no
institution is going to unilaterally cut
its men's athletic program in order to
serve a sense of equity. College athletic
directors should unite, and map out a co-
ordinated set of actions aimed at elimi-
nating sexual discrimination in athletics.
The HEW regulations just might prove
to be the necessary goad for this to hap-

Professor Pike replies'

Editorial Page:

Brian Colgan,

Arts Page: Ken Fink, Jeff Sorensen

Photo Technician: Ken Fink --CLARKE COGSDILL

AM VERY grateful to the stu-
dents of this country, including
those of this university, for taking
leadership in insisting that there
should be a moral component in
international, university, and per
sonal affairs. They hay often been
ahead of many of us on the faculty
in this respect. (This I feel, even
thoughI have disapproved of their
methods, on occasion.) But it
seems to me that they sometimes
need to do more thinking as to the
alternative bases upon which they
can build such a moral Position,
and sustain it philosophically. The
options are limited. My choice is
Judeo-Christian theism.
Students are changing daily as
they are exposed to expanding al-
ternatives. I do not consider, per-
sonally, that this has 'destroyed'
their culture. Similarly, change fol-
lowing upon education within an in-
,diginous culture does not seem to
me to be equivalent to detroymg
that culture. Change is inevitble,
and we do not have as an option
the stopping of change. Popula-
tion pressure and the need for en-
ergy (or other) resources will uro-
bably lead some nations,. via emi-
nent domain, into actions or areas
where I, as a foreigner, have nei-
ther right nor might to interfere.
When invited or permitted by such
a government to do so, however, I
would be grateful for the opportun-
ity to help such a government les-
sen the damage, if I am competent
to do so.
FOR CENTURIES it has b e e n
known to governments and to
scholars that language is one of the
deepest and most culturally bind-
ing factors of a group. In this
sense the work of the Summer In-
stitute of Linguistics Inc., ini giv-

ing alphabets and language' dignity
to indigeneous peoples, is strength-
ening cultural roots in one of the
deepest senses known to man. Sim-
ilarly, there is no channel, known
to me, which givestmuch hope of
making known to them through.
written sources of bilingual school-
ing the help actually or potentially
available to them from government
officials interested in their welfare.
It can open to these indigenous
peoples some degree of option in
cultural continuity, and simultan-
eous integration into the national
culture as well, both to help build
the nation as a whole and to build
their own community. Our own
country has not necessarily been
the best model in phis respect. It
is interesting to read, for example,
the book by W. Cameron Town-
send, founder of the Summer In-
stitute of Linguistics Inc., They
Found a Common Language: Com-
munity through Bilingual Educa-
tion (Harper and Row, 1972), dis-
cussing the successful work of bi-
lingual education in the USSR, in
contrast to that of our own coun-
MY THEISTIC presuppositions,
in a Biblical context, reinforce my
empirical observation that each of
us (whether faculty member, stu-
dent, government official, or in-
digenous person, shares a cultur-
al-moral-trait - a character twist
-e.g. a tendency to wish to dom-
inate others. This does not give
me hope that all things will be all
right if we just leave them alone.
I would prefer to take the risk of
trying to be hepful, while praying
that God will make more good
come from my good intentions and
positive efforts than damage from
my cultural insensitivities and ig-

Although the goals of SIL/WB r
are supposed to be religious and
scientific, most of its support comes
from churches and SIL workers
are recruited for their religious
motivation. The $8.7 million WBT/
SIL budget is supplemented by
grants from U.S. governmentai
agencies, chiefly the Age-icy for In-
ternational Development (AID),
and assistance from host govern-
THE LINGUISTIC orientation is
the key to the conversion strategy,
which is more sophisticated than
that of most Protestant ramissions.
Concentrating on small, rcmote
peoples beyond state cont:ol, the
translators often succeoa in es-
tablishing themselves among
groups which have resisted the

case is that of the Auca, a war like
group of several hundred nomadic
hunters and gatherers. Extreme iv
dispersed and accustomed to kll-
ing intruders, the Auca managed to
stay in control of their territory un-
til very recently.
A 1971 WYCLIFFE publicity flier
describes how WBT/SIL helped
change that, however. "Twenty-five
years ago, the Shell Oil C o m-
pany lost many workers to Auca
spears. For several reasons, Shell
decided to leave Ecuador. Sud-
denly, with the discovery of a vast
reserve of oil under the eastern
jungle, 21 companies are wcrbing
1500 men there."
"As they (the oil comoanies) ad-
vance, we fly ahead of them and
explain to Aucas living in thir

missionaries, which nas saved
ALTHOUGH Summer Institute
translators perceive themselves as
extenders of the helping hand, they
actually serve as cultural penetra-
tion teams, clearing the way for
the military, for corporate enter-
prise, and for settlers. The trans-
lators eagerly help to bring Ind-
ians into national societies racistly
predisposed against them, disin-
tegrating their traditional econom-
ic and social life. In the process of
turning proad, self-sufficient po-
ple into human refuse, many of
them inevitable die - whether
from bullets, starvation or disease.
Transformed into a marginal and
oppressed surplus labor pool, those
who are left face futures as semi-

Contact your reps-
Sen. Phillip Hart (Dem), Rm 253, Old Senate Bldg., Capitol
Hill, Washington, D.C. 20515.

15 5 . ~ NG-.W I *T T",ET"


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