Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kira Hall

Second Advisor

J. Andrew Cowell

Third Advisor

David Rood

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Shannon

Fifth Advisor

Barbra Meek


This dissertation explores intersections of community, tribal identity, and language. It examines how Chickasaw community members in Oklahoma employ discourses and other semiotic resources related to language revitalization efforts as a means of claiming and contesting visions of their tribe. Responses to the rapidly dwindling number of Chickasaw speakers by proponents of language revitalization both express and enact changes in community dynamics and ideologies. My research uncovered how these processes are intertwined with processes of economic growth that have dramatically reshaped the social realities within the tribe during the past decade: Most notably, this economic expansion has allowed the tribe to use some of its income to fund various language learning forums. The result has been the creation of well-paid and socially significant roles for Chickasaw speakers, old and new, as a newly appreciated skill set. Equally important is the resultant dediasporization effect, which draws tribal citizens to relocate (geographically and occupationally) to the Nation in diverse arenas. This process has dramatically shifted who participates in the semiotic trends of language revitalization, as well as the motivations behind such participation.