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Language Revitalization: The Cherokee & Navajo Tribes

Language Revitalization: The Cherokee & Navajo TribesThe cultural assimilation of the Native American peoples’ began when the first European settlement took root in what is now considered New England. The movement of these native people’s continued well into the 19th century with the predominant thought by Caucasian Americans that native tribes had little to contribute to the emerging United States. This assimilation involved the forced placement of young Native American children in boarding schools operated by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in order to “re-educate” or “Americanize” them in the eyes of Caucasian American citizens. The goal of the BIA was to force Native Americans to leave their heritage and cultures behind and enter into mainstream Caucasian American dominated culture. Even at the turn of the century, there were no attempts in any form to present to the Indian students with a culturally appropriate education. These schools promoted Native Americans to dress and speak like their Caucasian American counterparts. The persecution and assimilation of the Native American to adopt the English language has been recognized since the late 1960’s as a huge issue. Two of the largest tribes that have been documented the most in history as being subjected to such treatment are the Cherokee and the Navajo. These two tribes have recognized the rising issue of a dwindling supply of Native language speakers. Older members of these two tribes who are fluent in the language are beginning to pass away and younger generations are losing the ability to speak their native language at an increasing rate. It is of vital importance appropriate action be taken to revitalize both the Cherokee and Navajo languages. Languages that have no native speakers are typically called extinct or dead languages. Also, languages that do not have any native speakers in the youngest generation are known as moribund languages and languages, which have very few…


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