Laura W. R. Appell Fellowships For the Collection of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

The Firebird Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $40,000

Next deadline: Mar 1, 2020

Later deadlines: Jun 1, 2020, Sep 1, 2020, Dec 1, 2020

Applicant type: Research Scientist Postdoctoral Researcher Faculty Graduate Student Unaffiliated Researcher

Funding uses: Fellowship

Location of project: Maine

Location of residency: Maine

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About this funder:




The unique oral literatures of indigenous peoples are rapidly being lost through the death of the traditional practitioners and through the schooling of the next generation. The Program for Oral Literature of the Firebird Foundation has initiated a project to fund the collection of this body of rapidly disappearing literature.

This literature may consist of ritual texts, curative chants, epic poems, musical genres, folk tales, songs, myths, legends, historical accounts, life history narratives, word games, and so on.

Fellowships are available to anthropologists and linguists going into the field to support a collection of oral literature.

The Firebird Fellowships will provide funds of up to $10,000 to applicants for purchasing recording equipment and covering the expenses of collecting this material. Applicants are encouraged, where possible, to foster the development of local teams of collectors to continue the work of recording these materials. Transcriptions of the recordings are encouraged.

Applicants should submit a proposal of not more than three pages describing the importance of collecting oral literature among the society in which they will be working, the methods to be used, the goals to be achieved, the urgency of the project, and include a budget. Copies of the recordings, transcriptions, and other documents are to be deposited and archived with the Firebird Foundation’s Program for Oral Literature along with a final report including a list of expenses incurred.

The Laura W. R. Appell Fellowships For the Collection of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Laura W. R. Appell Fellowships were established in 2015 to honor Laura W. R. Appell and her work among the Rungus Momogon of Sabah, Malaysia. The body of her work arises from her continuing commitment to the Rungus Momogon community that began in 1959. It includes the co-establishment of the Sabah Oral Literature Project and co-directorship of it, her work on Rungus religion with female religious leaders and others, her study of female roles in Rungus society, and her work on the Rungus Cultural Dictionary.

The Laura W. R. Appell Fellowships are given in recognition of this long term commitment to the Rungus Momogon community and in honor of her Rungus friends, especially Itulina and Minobidong, her primary sources on Rungus religion. The recipients of this Fellowship are expected to develop a long term commitment to a community and to collaborate with the community’s members to preserve and protect their oral literature and traditional ecological knowledge.

The Fellowships in the Collection of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge were created to record the rapidly disappearing oral traditions and traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous populations. With increasing modernization and schooling, oral traditions and the languages they represent are being lost at an alarming rate. This rapidly disappearing oral literature may consists of ritual texts, epic poems, curative chants, songs, legends, myths, spells, riddles, texts accompanying agricultural ceremonies, historical accounts, life history narratives, and so on/

Critical information on the traditional uses of the environment may appear in oral texts and accounts which form part of the ecological knowledge of an indigenous people. It is the goal of the Foundation to record and collect these texts for scientific understanding, preservation, and to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of many of these oral traditions that should not be lost.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Each Fellowship can include up to $40,000 for the expenses required to establish a long-term community-based project.

  • Fellowships of up to US$10,000 will be awarded to anthropologists, linguists, and other scholars, as well as to individuals or teams of local researchers in indigenous societies who are dedicated to preserving their own oral traditions.

  • The project must explicitly adhere to the values, ethics, and methodology established by the Sabah Oral Literature Project to collect and preserve the oral literature and the traditional ecological knowledge of that community.

  • The funds in the Fellowships can be used to cover research expenses directly related and essential to the project (i.e., travel, essential living expenses during fieldwork, supplies and recording equipment, research assistance, and other relevant expenditures).

  • Using funds to initiate local oral literature projects and local collection teams is also strongly encouraged.


  • Aid is not offered for salary and/or fringe benefits of applicant, tuition, non-project personnel, travel to meetings, institutional overhead, or institutional support.