Rose Shields-Jefferson

Portraits in Chickasaw Strength and Resilience

With fewer than 50 native Chickasaw speakers left, Rose Shields-Jefferson has made it her mission to preserve the Chickasaw language and culture. From Rosetta Stone Chickasaw to reenactments of significant events and time periods in Chickasaw history, Rose is committed to using her knowledge of the Chickasaw language to preserve the traditions of her ancestors. "Chickasaw history is important, and we would like to just have people to learn more about our culture," says the Chickasaw elder.

Cultural preservation is critically important to the Chickasaw Nation and the Language Revitalization Department places a heavy emphasis on safeguarding linguistics using the power of video production. "We started having discussions with Rosetta Stone. And we really began, in earnest, developing the product probably by the winter of 2015, then into the spring of 2016," says Josh Hinson, director of the Chickasaw Language Revitalization program. "And these lessons are all centered around communicative language, just the way regular folks talk, the way we talk to one another in our families, out in public, with our friends." Rose is an integral part of the Rosetta Stone Chickasaw program. "I'm happy that I can speak Chickasaw language," she says. "Culture is something that nobody can take away and it's instilled in me. I really want young people to learn as much as they can about our tradition."