Reimagining Multilingual America: Lessons from Native American Youth

Teresa L. McCarty, Mary Eunice Romero, Ofelia Zepeda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the role of Native languages in the lives and aspirations of Native American youth. Drawing on a five-year, multi-method study of Native language shift and retention in four tribal communities, we analyze language ideologies that suggest the evolving contemporary causes of language shift among the young. Native youth narratives suggest three overarching themes that influence their language choices: concern about the future of their heritage language, the politics of shame and caring, and the constraints of larger standardizing regimes. We conclude by discussing examples of Indigenous counter-initiatives to the pressures that limit youths’ language choices: Native charter schools, counter-standards for culturally-responsive schooling, and Native-language immersion programs. These education practices wedge open spaces of possibility, creating new arenas in which to re-imagine multilingual schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImagining Multilingual Schools
Subtitle of host publicationLanguages in Education and Glocalization
PublisherChannel View Publications
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781853598968
ISBN (Print)9781853598951
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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