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Press Release

Release Date: January 05, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Chickasaw Nation’s Chikasha Academy Adult Immersion Program (CAAIP) is accepting applications for the 2022-2024 program. The exclusive program is a three-year long, 40-hour per week regiment that allows participants to learn the Chickasaw language while being compensated.

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

Participants are given the opportunity to learn from second language and master-level fluent speakers of the Chickasaw language. Students immersed in the language for up to eight hours a day, allowing those who complete the program to be the next generation of Chickasaw language speakers.

The program begins February 2022 and selection is limited. Applications can be submitted online by Jan. 14 at Chickasaw.net/LanguageAcademy.

About the Chickasha Academy Adult Immersion and Chickasaw Language Revitalization Programs

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

In the CAAIP, Chickasaw language learners meet daily to communicate conversationally in Chickasaw, allowing individual words to be learned, then moving toward more advanced fluent speech.

“Language is perhaps the most fundamental defining feature of a people, and today, our most scarce, precious and valuable resource,” Hinson said. “The language encompasses our history, our culture, our worldview and the worldview of our ancestors. The most powerful expression of the language is a medium of daily conversation, talking to one another about significant things, just as our ancestors did.”

"We prioritize conversational speech because that is what the ancestors would want us to do. If we do not accept this responsibility, our language will go to sleep, and we will be all the poorer for it,” he said.

Hinson says all things considered, those individuals learning through the CAAIP may one day be the only living conversational 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 projected to survive another 100 years. The CAAIP, along with other initiatives provided the Chickasaw Nation, will help to ensure 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 newly-fluent speakers of Chickasaw throughout the Chickasaw Nation began in 2007 — an effort built on the grassroots efforts of Chickasaw speakers who cared about their language and wanted to see it 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 CAAIP is the newest and perhaps most robust tool in the revitalization of the Chickasaw language, but it is just one of many tools available through the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program (CLRP).

Rosetta Stone Chickasaw was created at Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby’s direction to ensure that all Chickasaws, regardless of where they live in the world, could have access to high quality, compelling language learning products. Today, Chickasaw Nation Rosetta Stone has more than 8,015 active licenses.

Videos featuring native speakers of Chickasaw can be viewed on the department of culture and humanities YouTube page, as well as on Chickasaw.tv.

The first dictionary of Chickasaw, authored by Reverend and Mrs. Humes and published in 1973, is now a website with embedded audio, accessible at AChickasawDictionary.com. The language also has a presence on social media, including Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat.

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

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

“We want people to simply learn something and say something in Chickasaw, and teach what they know to someone else. In so doing, we are giving our language new life and contributing to the mission to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people.”