Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous California Languages

AICLS has a special program for communities with no speakers. Offered in partnership with the UC Berkeley Linguistics Department, the week long institute provides intensive training in linguistics, research skills and language revitalization practices. Participants learn how to access the UC Berkeley archives through hands on tours, computer access and research, partnering with linguists who assist them. Breath of Life participants end the week with a project on their language, and leave with materials, ideas and new energy for their language work.

Breath of Life returns in May 2024!

Applications are open!

 Apply to the Institute as a Community Researcher if you are from a California Indigenous tribe and planning to attend Breath of Life to research your own language. Community Researchers are usually paired with a Linguistic Partner, if needed, to assist in acquiring language documentation and learn linguistic skills.

Use this application to sign up as a Linguistic Partner. If accepted to the Institute and we are able to pair you with a Community Researcher(s), you will receive a fellowship to cover lodging and the conference fee as well.

Interested in coming to Breath of Life? It is a 2-step process: Application and Registration. First, complete an Application Form. You may apply as a Community Researcher, someone researching your language in the archives, or a Linguistic Partner, someone helping an individual or team of Community Researchers.  Once you submit your application, it will be reviewed by our Breath of Life Committee. If accepted, our staff will notify you and send a Registration Form to collect more information to help us plan your stay during the week. Applicants will be informed by March 29, 2024 of their acceptance or denial into this year’s Institute. Space is limited and we prioritize new applicants who have never experienced a Breath of Life before. 

We would love to accommodate everyone, but must limit attendance. Archive spaces at the campus are limited in capacity. Most attendees are able to come to the Institute through a fellowship provided by AICLS to help cover the costs of attendance, and fellowships are limited. The applications also help us determine whether the archives have adequate documentation materials to make the Institute worth your while. Some applicants may be denied because there are not enough materials in the archives. We also like having a mix of new and returning people. New applicants and communities without speakers will have priority. We receive considerably more applicants than we can accept and do not enjoy denying applicants.

We encourage you to apply as a group, but you may apply as an individual researcher. Group capacity is limited to up to five Community Researchers. 

We highly encourage you to apply only if you can commit to the full Institute. Please let us know in the application if you expect to attend only part of it and which days. 

Family members may attend if they are part of your applicant group. However, minors are not eligible to apply or to stay in the dorms. Only the approved applicants are eligible to stay in the dorms. 

We are not able to accommodate youth groups at the 2024 Institute. 


There are no current COVID-19 protocols in place at the University. Masks indoors are optional. Please, for the protection of our elders and other participants, if you are feeling sick closer to the date of the event, do not attend and just let us know so we can cancel your space. We sincerely think of your health as a priority and understand if you do not attend due to being ill. Although many regulations have been lifted, we would like to protect one another and help you stay informed.

Here are few tips:

  • Test before attending.
  • If you feel ill at any time during the Institute, we will have tests available if you need one or you can visit the University Health Center. 
  • Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and leave the Institute.
  • Re-test after the gathering.

The BOL Committee will review the applications and you will be notified by March 29, 2024 through email if you and/or your team were accepted. If accepted, you will be then be put on an e-mail list and we communicate with you and/or your team primarily by email. We will notify you of the Linguistic Partner that you are paired with. We also are planning an online orientation that will take place prior to the Institute to help Linguistic Partners and Community Researchers prepare for the event.