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Assessing indigenous language programs in an American “hot spot”: Researching the lived experience of Native American school stakeholders

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Title: Assessing indigenous language programs in an American “hot spot”: Researching the lived experience of Native American school stakeholders
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2013
Description: The entire world needs a diversity of ethnolinguistic entities for its own salvation, for its
greater creativity, for the more certain solution of human problems, for the constant rehumanization of humanity in the face of materialism, for fostering greater esthetic, intellectual,and emotional capacities for humanity as a whole, indeed, for arriving at a higher state of human functioning. (Fishman 1982:6-7)

Over the past century, prevailing monolingual language ideologies in the United States and abroad have played an enormous role in language loss and obsolescence (Garrett 2004). In many instances, schooling practices and educational policies have been the common ideological space by which this language loss and obsolescence has been explicitly and implicitly promulgated through overt and symbolic violence (Adams 1977; Bourdieu & Thompson 1999; Bourdieu and Passeron 1990; Menken 2008; Menken and Garcia, 2010). There is little doubt among researchers that languages play a fundamental role in the formation of identity for their speakers (Dixon 1998; Duranti 1997; Hill 2008; Nettle and Romaine 2000; Sapir 1921). And, Mithun (2004, 137) suggests that, “language serves as a powerful tool for creativity, [while simultaneously] maintaining, and celebrating culture and social relationships”. Yet, some argue that their might be a disconnect between the academic rhetoric that promotes language revitalization and the indigenous language communities the researchers claim to support (Hill 2008). One must wonder if the fervor for the promotion of linguistic diversity by academics is also shared by Native American communities and their educational leaders. For this reason, Hill (2008), suggests that researchers focus on collaborating with Native American communities in order to develop rhetoric that makes sense to the community while being effective within the more general scope of language revitalization.

As schools are primary ideological spaces in which the transmission of culture and language ideology occurs (Bourdieu and Thompson 1999; Bourdieu and Passeron 1990; Menken 2008; Menken and Garcia, 2010), a necessary component of collaboration with Native American communities is the investigation into Native American’s language attitudes within the school systems in which Native American children are attending. This empirical study provides a unique perspective, within the literature on language revitalization, focusing on a variety of school stakeholders’ perspectives, attitudes, beliefs and values within the context of the Cherokee Language Immersion School, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It does so by employing a phenomenological-like perspective modified for the context of educational research How do Cherokee immersion school stakeholders approach the concept of language revitalization, and how do they navigate the current state policy environment that promotes a monolingual ideology?
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/26093
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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