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Reclaiming Muscogee Creek: Building a Foundation for a Future in Language Revitalization

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Throughout the course of the Honors Thesis/Creative Project, the intent was to gain knowledge regarding national, state and community initiatives regarding Indigenous Language Revitalization and Maintenance (ILRA). For over a year, I had the opportunity to visit a total of

Throughout the course of the Honors Thesis/Creative Project, the intent was to gain knowledge regarding national, state and community initiatives regarding Indigenous Language Revitalization and Maintenance (ILRA). For over a year, I had the opportunity to visit a total of five indigenous communities, including Pine Ridge, SD, Gila River Indian Community, AZ, White Mountain Apache, AZ, Cochiti Pueblo, NM and Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM. The goal was to learn about the status of their language, current ILRA initiatives as well as challenges and successes that face American Indian nations. During each visit, key elements to successful language revitalization initiatives were identified that could benefit those continuing their effort to reverse language loss as well as those looking to enter in the field of language revitalization.

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2014-12

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Zeziikizit Kchinchinaabe: a relational understanding of Anishinaabemowin history

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Relationships are the heart of Anishinaabeg culture and language. This research proposes understanding Anishinaabemowin, the language of Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi peoples, as a living, historical, and spiritual member of the cultural community. As a community member, the language is

Relationships are the heart of Anishinaabeg culture and language. This research proposes understanding Anishinaabemowin, the language of Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi peoples, as a living, historical, and spiritual member of the cultural community. As a community member, the language is the Oldest Elder. This understanding provides a relational lens through which one can understand language history from an Indigenous perspective. Recent scholarship on Indigenous languages often focuses on the boarding school experiences or shapes the narrative in terms of language loss. A relational understanding explores the language in terms of connections. This dissertation argues that the strength of language programs is dependent on the strength of reciprocal relationships between the individuals and institutions involved. This research examines the history of Anishinaabemowin classes and programs at three higher educational institutions: Bemidji State University, University of Michigan, and Central Michigan University. At each institution, the advocates and allies of Oldest Elder fought and struggled to carve space for American Indian people and the language. Key relationships between advocates and allies in the American Indian and academic communities found ways to bring Oldest Elder into the classroom. When the relationships were healthy, Oldest Elder thrived, but when the relationships shifted or weakened, so did Oldest Elder's presence. This dissertation offers a construct for understanding Indigenous language efforts that can be utilized by others engaged in language revitalization. The narrative of Oldest Elder shifts the conversation from one of loss to one of possibilities and responsibilities.

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2014