‘Language Use and Revitalization as Kinship Practice’

Date / Time

October 24, 2018

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Drawing on over a decade of research on language revitalization in the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, Jenny Davis (UIUC) follows Leonard’s (2017) call to center Indigenous community definitions of “language.” She examines the practices and ideologies that position chikashshanompa’ (the Chickasaw language) as a mode of kinship. Participants routinely articulate the Chickasaw language as a result of, and symbol for, their familial and community ties. Most expressed hopes that their children, grandchildren and others connected either through immediate kinship or the broader Chickasaw community would learn the language and thus be related through it. These ideologies reflect motivations for reclaiming chikashshanompa’ that prioritize interactional relationships and responsibilities within both immediate and long-spanning time frames. Rather than an attempt to return to language practices at some moment before European settler arrival, as language revitalization is often assumed to be, Chickasaw shows an emphasis on language reclamation as a decolonial move to (re)establish relational systems with, in, and through the Chickasaw language.

Sponsored by: LICO Research Group

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