Language Endangerment: Diversity and Specificities of Native American Languages of Oklahoma

Living reference work entry


Native American languages have faced more than half a millennium of decline, and efforts at revitalization and revival have drawn the attention of scholars, community leaders, and policymakers from around the country and world. With one of the highest numbers of federally recognized Native American tribes, a large number of Native American languages, and one of the highest proportions of Native American language speakers, Oklahoma presents a perfect case study for examining the causes and effects of Native American language decline as well as the successes and limitations of revitalization programs. Drawing on Fishman’s Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale, and discussing the theory of language ideology, this article argues that for many Oklahoma tribes, the goals of language remediation may be starkly different from what non-native linguists and anthropologists prescribe for them. Though this study finds some examples of relative growth and success in Native American language revitalization and a shift in the language policies of the state of Oklahoma, it ultimately rests with each Native American community to decide for itself what constitutes success given its contextual and demographic limitations.


Native American languages Language endangerment Language revitalization Language ideologies Language policies Oklahoma 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, Jeannine Rainbolt College of EducationUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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