The website and video of the Cherokee Language Preservation Foundation resonates deeply with the association some of my students raised today (the first day of class, Spring 2015) between language and culture. The excerpts we’ll read from Deborah Miranda’s Bad Indians in a few weeks also speak to the importance of revitalizing Indigenous languages as a means of cultural and personal decolonization, healing, and empowerment.
How do we acknowledge real deeply felt connections between language and culture (like those expressed on the Cherokee Preservation site) while at the same time refusing to buy into the myth that individuals who don’t speak the language of their ancestors have necessarily “lost” their cultures or that they are not “authentic” representatives of their communities? This tough question has been dancing around Indian Country for a very long time. I look forward to seeing what happens to the dance when my students join in this semester.