The Politics of Native Language Writing: Lakota Writing at Standing Rock
My dissertation draws attention to the significance of Native language writing in contemporary articulations of Native sovereignty. Historically and today, Native Americans have used writing to articulate Native identity, Native sovereignty, and therefore Native resistance to settler colonialism. Most of this writing, however, is in English. In this current period of Native nationalism and expansion of tribal sovereignty, Native peoples are actively claiming self-determination and returning to traditional cultural practices, values, and, pointedly, languages. However, there is little research on how Native peoples are taking up practices of Native language writing in their articulations of Native sovereignty, or what ideologies, policies, or structural obstacles influence the production of Native language texts. My research aims to address these gaps through ethnographic, archival, and cultural analysis at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where there is a century-long history with Lakota language writing and a growing effort to revitalize the Lakota language. In this context, I ask: How are Native Americans using Native language writing and for what purposes? What influences Native peoples to write in one language over another? What are the possibilities and limits to Native language writing? And how have these dynamics influenced understandings of Native identity and sovereignty?