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The Ak-Chin Indian Community is a small community in southern Arizona comprised of roughly one thousand O’odham. The indigenous language of Ak-Chin is the ’O’odham ñeo’okĭ, O’odham language, however in recent decades the number of speakers of this language have begun to sharply decline. Due to a variety of sociological factors in interacting with the dominant colonial society, the people of Ak-Chin have begun a shift toward the predominant use of English in daily affairs. The goal of this thesis is to investigate the societal factors that have led to the decline of the O’odham language in Ak-Chin and to examine language policy and planning principles and practices which may serve as examples for the Ak-Chin community to re-establish a strong connection to their heritage language.
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.