Talking Indian : Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance, Hardback Book

Talking Indian : Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance Hardback



In south-central Oklahoma and much of "Indian Country," using an Indigenous language is colloquially referred to as "talking Indian." Among older Chickasaw community members, the phrase, "to talk Indian" is used more often than the specific language name of Chikashshanompa' or Chickasaw.

This colloquialism reflects the strong connections between languages and both individual and communal identities when talking as an Indian is intimately tied up with the heritage language(s) of the community, even as the number of speakers decline. Today a tribe of over sixty thousand members, the Chickasaw Nation was one of the Native nations removed from their homelands to Oklahoma between 1837 and 1838.

Being dispersed from their lands, author Jenny L. Davis explains, contributed to being disconnected from their language over time: by 2010 the number of Chickasaw speakers had radically declined to under seventy-five speakers. In Talking Indian, Davis-a member of the Chickasaw Nation-offers the first book-length ethnography of language revitalization in a U.S. tribe removed from its homelands. She shows how in the case of the Chickasaw Nation, language programs are intertwined with economic growth that dramatically reshapes the social realities within the tribe.

She explains how this economic expansion allows the tribe to use income to fund various language--learning forums, resulting in the creation of well-paid and socially significant roles for Chickasaw speakers.

Davis also illustrates how language revitalization efforts are impacted by the growing trend of tribal citizens relocating back to the Nation.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192 pages, 31 black & white illustrations, 4 tables
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: linguistics
  • ISBN: 9780816537686



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