Immersion program seeks Chickasaws to continue language

The Chickasaw Nation Chikasha Academy Adult Immersion Program is now accepting applications for the 2022-2024 program. The exclusive program is a three-year, 40-hour-a-week plan in which participants learn the Chickasaw language while being paid.

“It’s an intensive, structured group immersion,” said Joshua D. Hinson (Lokosh), executive director of Chickasaw Nation Language Preservation. “Our goal is to create fluent speakers who can communicate with each other and with native Chickasaw speakers, and who can effectively teach the Chickasaw language to others.”

Participants will learn from second language and master level speakers of the Chickasaw language. Students are immersed in the language for up to eight hours a day. Those who complete the program will be the next generation of Chickasaw language speakers.

The program starts in February 2022 and the selection is limited. Applications can be submitted online at Chickasaw.net/LanguageAcademy.

The Chickasaw Nation created the immersion program as part of a language revitalization initiative. The Chickasaw language is endangered. It is estimated that there are fewer than 35 native speakers of the Chickasaw language, all over the age of 60.

In the immersion program, Chickasaw language learners meet daily to communicate conversationally in Chickasaw, allowing them to learn individual words and then move on to more advanced fluent speech.

“Language is perhaps the most fundamental characteristic that defines a people, and today our rarest, most precious and valuable resource,” Hinson said. “Language encompasses our history, our culture, our worldview and the worldview of our ancestors. Language’s most powerful expression is a medium for daily conversation, telling each other about important things, just as our ancestors did.

“We prioritize conversational speech because that’s what the ancestors would have us do. If we don’t accept this responsibility, our language will go to sleep and we will be all the poorer,” he said.

All things considered, Hinson said, people learning in the immersion program may one day be the only living speakers of the Chickasaw language. The current state of the Chickasaw language is similar to that of most tribes in the United States

Fewer than 20 languages ​​spoken by tribes in the United States are expected to survive another 100 years. The immersion program, along with other initiatives provided by the Chickasaw Nation, will help ensure that the Chickasaw language continues to be spoken.

While the decline of the Chickasaw language has been a concern for generations, a concerted effort to develop new speakers of Chickasaw throughout the Chickasaw Nation began in 2007. This represented an effort grounded in the local efforts of Chickasaw speakers that cared about their language. and wanted to see him survive into the future.

These native speakers include the late Reverend Jess J. and Vinnie May James Humes, teachers including the late Yvonne Alberson and the late Geraldine Greenwood, as well as countless other native speakers who contributed to the modern Chickasaw language revitalization movement.

The Immersion Program is the newest and perhaps most robust tool in Chickasaw Language Revitalization, but it is only one of the many tools available under the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program. .

Rosetta Stone Chickasaw was created under the leadership of Governor Bill Anoatubby to ensure that all Chickasaw, wherever they live in the world, can have access to engaging, high-quality language learning products. Today, Chickasaw Nation Rosetta Stone has over 8,015 active licenses.

Videos featuring native Chickasaw speakers can be viewed on the Chickasaw Nation Culture & Humanities YouTube page, as well as on Chickasaw.tv.

Chickasaw’s first dictionary, authored by the Reverend and Mrs. Humes and published in 1973, is now a website with embedded audio, accessible to AChickasawDictionary.com. The language is also present on social networks, including Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat.

Other local community resources include the Chipota Chikashshanompoli “Children Speaking Chickasaw” Language Club, four semesters of Chickasaw offered at East Central University, and a language pilot project at Byng High School, among many other related programs and services. to the language.

“All of these resources are available to Chickasaw citizens around the world,” Hinson said. “Whether you want to be fully conversational or just introduce yourself in your native language, there is a resource for you.

“We want people to just learn something and say something in Chickasaw, and teach someone else what they know. In doing so, we breathe new life into our language and contribute to the mission of improving the overall quality of life for the Chickasaw people.

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