Morris (2016). An Example of Excellence: Chickasaw Language Revitalization through Technology.

Morris, T. L. (2016). An Example of Excellence: Chickasaw Language Revitalization through Technology. In L. E. Dyson, S. Grant, & M. Hendriks (Eds.), Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies (pp. 293–304). New York: Routledge.

[“Introduction” (p 293) …]

“Likewise, no data exists on how Indian Country1 residents use social media or the Internet and on how technology aids individuals in perpetuating their learning and use of tribal languages, although anecdotally we know it is happening. Technology holds great promise in stabilizing tribal languages, which are in danger of extinction, allowing connections between remote peoples and between young and old.” (p 293)

“… research indicates that Native Americans utilize digital communications technologies at rates much higher than national norms (Morris and Meinrath 2009).” (p 293)

“… _Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries_ …” (p 294)

“This chapter examines uses of technology in Native American language revitalization. Specifically the author will look at how Chickasaw Nation [page break] tribal citizens — independent of the Chickasaw Nation — are using technology to create and access cultural and linguistic programming and how the Chickasaw Nation Language Revitalization Program is using technology in an effort to expand their educational outreach.” (p 294-295)

[“Background” (p 295) …]

“Academically, particular attention has been paid to technology and Indigenous language revitalization with regard to the Ojibwe language demonstrating the use of technology for communications, material production, documentation and archival efforts (Hermes and King 2013); the discussion of technology-driven multimedia language software project for language revitalization (Hermes, Ban, Marin 2012); the Hawaiian language (Warshauer 1998; Galla 2009) and, increasingly the Chickasaw Nation via newspaper articles (Richmond 2014; Russon 2014). Additionally, two recent dissertations have been written; one examines the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program (Ozbolt 2014, Davis 2013), and the other discusses uses of technology and in particular mobile apps for language learning (Begay 2013).” (p 295)

“… there are now a number of companies creating Tribal language apps, including Thornton Media and Ogoki Learning Systems.” (p 295)

“… Native American individuals are using social [page break] media, especially Facebook groups, Google+ Groups, Twitter and YouTube in increasingly high numbers to interact in and learn tribal languages, in many cases bridging the gap between elders and youth via technology (Alan 2014).” (p 295-296)

[“History of Technology and Innovation in Native American Communities” (p 296) …]

[“Community-Centric Language Learning via Social Media” (p 296) …]

“The _We Speak Chickasaw_ Google+ Page was created by several enrolled members of the Chickasaw Nation … The intent of this online community is to create a more formalized class-like learning environment using Google Hangouts, online and live, making it accessible to multiple people all over the country. … The _We Speak Chickasaw_ Google+ Group was created in 2013. However, it is not particularly active as the technology of the Google groups proved restrictive, cumbersome, and difficult for some Tribal members to use.” (p 297)

“The most active community-learning group is the Facebook Group _We Speak Chickasaw_.” (p 297)

[“Texting” (p 297) …]

“A fascinating, applied use of the technology and the language in the real world is the growing use of Chickasaw textisms by citizens on their mobile devices and phones.” (p 297)

[“Chickasaw Nation Language Program: Language Engagement with Technology Since the 1990s” (p 298) …]

[“A Chickasaw Dictionary CD-ROM” (p 298) …]

[“Phraselator” (p 299) …]

[“” (p 299) …]

“… the Language section of _Chickasaw Nation TV_ has four subsections: Lessons, Programs, Language Keepers and the Language Web App (Anompa). The Lessons section has 23 short video lessons. The Programs section has short videos discussing two distinct programs, the Master- Apprentice Program and Camps and Clubs. The Language Keepers section has three segments with videos: one about the Chickasaw Nation Language Department, one on Language Education and a section of videos on Speaking and Sharing the Chickasaw Language. Finally the last subsection of the Chickasaw Language section of _Chickasaw Nation TV_ is a link to the _Anompa Language Web App_.” (p 300)

[“Anompa: iPod/iPad/iPhone application/ANOMPA website” (p 300) …]

“Roughly a year following its release, Hinson indicated that Chickasaw citizens began to ask for an Android version of the application. At that time the Department of Chickasaw Language (founded in 2009) chose to create a website with hyperlinked audio that would function on all platforms, rather than develop another device-specific application. The flexibility of a website also ensures that additional content can be added as needed without constantly having to update the application architecture and content. The web version of _Anompa_ is located at …” (p 301)

[“Conclusion” (p 301) …]

“According to Joshua Hinson, the Director of the Department of Chickasaw Language, more people access resources for language learning online (as the numbers have demonstrated), but it is clear that in-person learning is much more effective in terms of actually learning the language. However, the use of the technologies employed here — whether by Chickasaw citizens for citizen-directed learning or by the Chickasaw Nation to engage a dispersed population — goes far beyond creating a linguistically literate population; the technology is creating a culturally literate Chickasaw population.” (p 301)

“Indeed, through this article, in the Western academic sense, we see technology, adaption and adoption, synthesis and innovation by the Chickasaw Nation. But those from Native communities, including this author, see self-determination in praxis. Language is a matter of cultural survival.” (p 302)

Selected Notes

  • 1. While the term Indian Country is a legal, philosophical and geographical designation for Native peoples who are members of a Native Nation, for the context of this research, the term refers to people who are enrolled members of Native American Nations as a whole comprised of many different tribes in the United States.
  • 2. Lokosh (Joshua D. Hinson). Director, Department of Chickasaw Language, Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program, Chickasaw Nation Division of History and Culture. The entire section on the Chickasaw Nation Language Program is based on e-mail correspondence with Lokosh March 2015.
  • 7.

Selected References

  • Alan, Silas. “Outlook 2014: Chickasaw Nation Uses Technology to Broaden Tribe’s Reach | News OK.” The Oklahoman, April 27, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2015.
  • Begay, Winoka Rose. “Mobile Apps and Indigenous Language Learning: New Developments in the Field of Indigenous Language Revitalization.” Master’s thesis, University of Arizona, 2013.
  • Davis, Jennifer Lynn. “Learning to ‘Talk Indian’: Ethnolinguistic Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance.” PhD diss., University of Colorado, 2013.
  • Galla, Candace K. “Indigenous Language Revitalization and Technology from Traditional to Contemporary Domains.” In Indigenous Language Revitalization: Encouragement, Guidance & Lessons Learned, edited by J. Reyhner and L. Lockard, 167–82, 2009. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.
  • Hermes, Mary, and Kendall King. “Ojibwe Language Revitalization, Multimedia Technology, and Family Language Learning.” Learning, Language, & Technology 17, no. 1(2013): 124–44.
  • Hermes, Mary, Megan Bang, and Ananda Marin. “Designing Indigenous Language Revitalization.” Harvard Educational Review 82, no. 3 (2012): 381–402.
  • Jorgensen, Miriam, Traci L. Morris and Susan Feller. Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries: Report for Printing.pdf. 2015. Accessed January 2, 2015. for%20Printing.pdf.
  • Morris, Traci L., and Sascha D. Meinrath. New_Media_Technology_and_Internet _ Use_in._Indian_Country.pdf. Native Public Media & New America Foundation, 2009. Media_Technology_and_Internet_Use_in_Indian_Country.pdf.
  • Ozbolt, Ivan Camille. “Community Perspectives, Language Ideologies, and Learner Motivation in Chickasaw Language Programs.” PhD diss., University of Oklahoma, 2014.
  • Russon, Mary-Ann. “Chickasaw Nation: The Fight to Save a Dying Native American Language.” International Business Times, May 8, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2015. american-language-1447670.
  • Warschauer, Mark. “Technology and Indigenous Language Revitalization: Analyzing the Experience of Hawai’i.” Canadian Modern Language Review 55, no. 1 (1998): 139–59.
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