Enacting Hope Through Narratives of Indigenous Language and Culture Reclamation


  • Kari A.B. Chew University of Victoria
  • Vanessa Anthony-Stevens University of Idaho
  • Amanda LeClair-Diaz University of Arizona
  • Sheilah E. Nicholas
  • Angel Sobotta University of Idaho
  • Philip Stevens University of Idaho




In globalizing landscapes, Indigenous ways of knowing and being persist in their connectedness to specific geographies, even as they are transformed by migrations, both forced and voluntary, and dynamic exchanges. This paper presents narratives of Indigenous and ally scholars which explore what it means to enact language and culture reclamation from a place of hope—by Indigenous peoples, for Indigenous communities—and in connection with distinct historical, political, and geographic sites. By naming the identities the authors represent—Chickasaw, Nez Perce, Eastern Shoshone/Northern Arapaho, Hopi, San Carlos Apache and Euro-American—we use a framework of hope to counter damaging assumptions of homogeneity of Indigenous communities while also searching for common themes to advance an agenda of decolonization across positionalities. Understanding that Indigenous sovereignties are built on “contingency with the beliefs, and understandings of the past” (Grande 250), we interrupt settler-colonial narratives which portray Indigenous languages and cultures as deficient and vanishing. Further, through narratives, we explore how disciplines such as linguistics, anthropology, education, and cultural studies can be interwoven to highlight experiences of identity reconciliation, spirituality through language revitalization, and storytelling as narrative reclamation. A critical culturally sustaining/revitalizing pedagogy unifies the narratives and provides a framework for attending to “asymmetrical power relations and legacies of colonization” (McCarty and Lee 8). In this way, Indigenous narratives of persistence and optimism find relevance in the global and local here and now while emphasizing the relevancy of hope as a rooted practice of relationality in Indigenous language and cultural education. Sharing narratives of hope acknowledges the experience of colonization, while privileging the hope in Indigenous knowledge as a return to the community and generator of new narratives.




How to Cite

Chew, K. A., Anthony-Stevens, V., LeClair-Diaz, A., Nicholas, S. E., Sobotta, A., & Stevens, P. (2019). Enacting Hope Through Narratives of Indigenous Language and Culture Reclamation. Transmotion, 5(1), 132–151. https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/03/tm.570