Research and Collaborations

Sam Noble Museum

The Sam Noble Museum and the Native American Languages Collection are continually building our repository of materials produced by and related to speakers of Native languages. The Native American Languages collection currently includes over 6,000 print, audio and video materials representing over 175 Native North American languages. It also includes teaching materials, such as curriculums, lesson plans and classroom materials created by numerous Native language teachers. The collection is a resource center for Native language teachers and students in addition to academic researchers.

The Department of Native American Languages actively works with Native communities, and hosts a number of activities related to language documentation, language maintenance and teacher training. We collaborate with the following academic disciplines at the University of Oklahoma, as well as with tribal nations throughout the state. All OU faculty and students are encouraged to archive their primary language materials from North America with NAL.

Native American Studies

Native American Studies uses distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study and community-engaged research. The discipline is built upon concepts fundamental to critical Indigenous theory, such as political and cultural sovereignty, peoplehood, relationality, self-determination and decolonization as each has developed among many Native peoples across many historical, political and geographical contexts.

Heritage languages encode Native epistemologies or knowledge systems, and their development is a crucial and growing endeavor for many tribes across the nation. Students are prepared for work in key areas such as language, historic preservation, cultural preservation and revitalization, museums and archives, public history and social justice/advocacy. The University of Oklahoma is honored to serve as a place where Indigenous languages are preserved and revitalized. The Department of Native American Studies is proud to offer four Native American languages — Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Kiowa — each semester. With the broad approaches to several facets of Indigenous cultures available at OU, we cultivate a deeper understanding of Native ways of knowing, and doing that can inform any scholarly discipline or vocational pursuit.

Linguistics and Anthropology

Linguistics is one of the traditional branches of anthropology. Researchers in linguistics and linguistic anthropology have long played an active role in the documentation and preservation of Native American languages. Documentary and descriptive linguists and anthropologists record undocumented and under-documented languages with the goal of creating comprehensive and long-lasting records of those languages. They also produce grammars, dictionaries, collections of texts, articles and other descriptive materials that are invaluable both to the academic study of language and to those interested in preserving and teaching their Native languages. The departments of Anthropology and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma are committed to the study of language, society and cross-cultural understanding, and several faculty members conduct their research on Native languages in the Americas.