Ways of Talking (and Acting) About Language Reclamation: An Ethnographic Perspective on Learning Lenape in Pennsylvania
The experiences of a community of people learning and teaching Lenape in Pennsylvania provide insights into the complexities of current ways of talking and acting about language reclamation. We illustrate how Native and non-Native participants in a university-based Indigenous language class constructed language, identity, and place in nuanced ways that, although influenced by essentializing discourses of language endangerment, are largely pluralist and reflexive. Rather than counting and conserving fixed languages, the actors in this study focus on locally appropriate language education, undertaken with participatory classroom discourses and practices. We argue that locally responsible, participatory educational responses to language endangerment such as this, although still rare in formal higher education, offer a promising direction in which to invest resources.