This dissertation is grounded in stories of how Chickasaw people have restructured and dedicated their lives to ensuring the continuance of Chikashshanompa’, their Indigenous heritage language. Building on an earlier study of what motivates Chickasaw people-across generations-to engage in language reclamation, these pages explore how: 1) Chickasaw young adult professionals who have established careers with the Chickasaw Nation Department of Language have made language reclamation their life’s pursuit; 2) Chickasaw citizens-at-large, who reside outside of the Chickasaw Nation, engage in language reclamation, and 3) the study of Chikashshanompa’ in school has impacted Chickasaw high school and university students’ conceptualizations of their personal and social identities. Together, the perspectives of these groups of language learners comprise a case study of Chickasaw people’s resilient and tireless efforts to ensure that Chikashshanompa’ ilanompohó̲li bíyyi’ka’chi [we will always speak the Chickasaw language].
As a Chickasaw person and language learner myself, I worked from culturally-grounded research methodology which embraced my cultural identity and personal relationships with other Chickasaws involved in language reclamation. One key feature of this methodology was my reconstruction of in-depth, phenomenological interviews as participant profiles-or stories-as a means to present and analyze data. Individually, these stories tell of the nuanced and diverse experiences of Chickasaw language learners representing distinct generational categories and demographics. Collectively, they reflect three key themes enabling the vitality and efficacy of Chickasaw language reclamation: 1) a raised critical Chickasaw consciousness, 2) the conception of Chikashshanompa’ as cultural practice, and 3) the (re)valuing of language learners.
Chew, K. A. B. (2016). Chikashshanompa’ ilanompohó̲li bíyyi’ka’chi [We will always speak the Chickasaw language]: Considering the vitality and efficacy of Chickasaw language reclamation [Doctoral dissertation, the University of Arizona]. UA Campus Repository. http://hdl.handle.net/10150/621788