From time immemorial, Chickasaw was the only language passed from generation to generation of Chickasaw people. Language has been the cultural glue, carrying centuries of stories, music, humor, rituals, traditions and more. However, the influences of the 20th century and assimilation efforts pushed English forward as a primary language and fluency in the Chickasaw native language began to dwindle. "In fact, today English is the majority language in almost every Chickasaw home, until recently," says Director of Language Revitalization Joshua Hinson. The four-year-old daughter of Schuyler and Kari Chew, Hatalhposhik, speaks Chickasaw as her first language and joins many other learners on their way to fluency.
Since the Chickasaw Nation's language revitalization program was established in 2007, access to language resources has only expanded. In 2022, Governor Bill Anoatubby proclaimed the Decade of Chickasaw Language to promote revitalization. "One of the goals that we've had is to make sure that language materials are widely accessible, regardless of where one lives in the world," says Joshua. From Rosetta Stone and children's books to the Chikasha Academy and ChickasawDictionary.com, there is something for everyone hoping to reclaim and reconnect with their birthright: the language of their ancestors. To learn more, head to https://www.chickasaw.net/Our-Nation/Culture/Language.