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Press Release

Release Date: March 18, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Dr. Jenny L. Davis: Educator and Writer

Dr. Jenny L. Davis is an associate professor of anthropology and American Indian studies at the University of Illinois and the director of the American Indian Studies program. In 2021, she was named the Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year.

The Dynamic Woman of the Year Award recognizes Chickasaw women dedicated to promoting traditions and culture. The Chickasaw Nation is historically matrilineal, and Chickasaw women have maintained important roles throughout that history.

Davis’s research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language revitalization, Indigenous gender and sexuality, as well as collaborative methods, ethics and repatriation in Indigenous research.

Her academic and professional career is inspiring. After earning undergraduate degrees from Oklahoma State University, she obtained a Master of Arts and doctorate in linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She was a Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University, and a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in linguistics at the University of Kentucky.

“Over the past 20 years, the Chickasaw Nation has nurtured and supported me in so many ways in my career and in my education,” Davis explained. “And the department of language, and our Chickasaw speakers and language learners in particular continue to be an incredible inspiration for me.”

Her research has been published in the “Annual Review of Anthropology,” “ American Anthropologist,” “Gender & Language,” “Language & Communication,” and the “Review of International American Studies,” among others.

Davis’ books have received two noteworthy prizes. Her book “Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance” received the 2019 Beatrice Medicine Award from the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures. Her co-edited volume “Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality” received the 2014 Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.

Her poetry manuscript, “Trickster Academy,” is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press Sun Tracks Series. Other creative works by Davis were most recently published in several media sites and exhibitions in Michigan and Minnesota.

About Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Award

The Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Award was established October 2006 to honor Chickasaw women who have made significant contributions to the Chickasaw Nation and its citizens.

Women ages 35 and older with Chickasaw citizenship are eligible.Current Chickasaw Nation employees and elected officials are not eligible.

The Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference will take place virtually this year. Registration details will be available soon. For more information, visit DynamicWomen or contact creative arts at or (580) 272-5520.