Storywork provides an epistemic, pedagogical, and methodological lens through which to examine Indigenous language reclamation in practice. We theorize the meaning of language reclamation in diverse Indigenous communities based on firsthand narratives of Chickasaw, Mojave, Miami, Hopi, Mohawk, Navajo, and Native Hawaiian language reclamation. Language reclamation is not about preserving the abstract entity “language,” but is rather about voice, which encapsulates personal and communal agency and the expression of Indigenous identities, belonging, and responsibility to self and community. Storywork – firsthand narratives through which language reclamation is simultaneously described and practiced – shows that language reclamation simultaneously refuses the dispossession of Indigenous ways of knowing and refuses past, present, and future generations in projects of cultural continuance. Centering Indigenous experiences sheds light on Indigenous community concerns and offers larger lessons on the role of language in well-being, sustainable diversity, and social justice.
McCarty, T. L., Nicholas, S. E., Chew, K. A. B., Diaz, N., Leonard, W. Y., & White, L. (2018). Hear our languages, hear our voices: Stories of resilience and justice in Indigenous-language reclamation. Dædalus, 147(2), 160–172. https://doi.org/10.1162/DAED_a_00499