Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has enacted a revitalization plan to promote Cherokee language in a variety of settings, and many tribal citizens have begun to confront how language factors into their identities as Cherokees. In particular, Tsalagi Dideloquasdi, the Cherokee immersion school, has become an important sociolinguistic site for the articulation of deeply seated beliefs and attitudes about issues such as the practicality of the language in contemporary times and who has a legitimate right to learn and speak the language. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate these attitudes and beliefs as well as the ideologies that inform them. Assuming a critical ethnographic stance, I examine the hegemonic discourses and structures that have led to the loss of Cherokee over generations as well as to three ideologies — impracticality, legitimacy, and hope — that influence the current efforts of the immersion school stakeholders.
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