50(0) Years Out and Counting: Native American Language Education and the Four Rs

Teresa L. McCarty, Sheilah E Nicholas, Leisy T Wyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Fifty years after the U.S. Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA), Native Americans continue to fight for the right “to remain an Indian” (Lomawaima & McCarty, 2006) against a backdrop of test-driven language policies that threaten to destabilize proven bilingual programs and violate hard-fought language rights protections such as the Native American Languages Act of 1990/1992. In this article we focus on the “four Rs” of Indigenous language education—rights, resources, responsibilities, and reclamation—forefronting the inherent sovereignty of Indigenous peoples in language education decision making. Drawing on our work together and our individual long-term ethnographic work with Native American communities, we present three case studies that illuminate larger issues of language rights, resources, responsibilities, and reclamation as they are realized in these communities. We conclude by “reflecting forward” (Winn, 2014) on language education possibilities and tensions, 50 years out from passage of the CRA and more than 500 years out from the original Indigenous-colonial encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-252
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Indigenous education
  • Indigenous language reclamation
  • language planning and policy
  • language rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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