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Sharon Baker, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Deaf Education

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1 Sharon Baker, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Deaf Education
Native American Deaf Experience: Perspectives on Language, Culture, and Education Sharon Baker, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Deaf Education

2 Oklahoma The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw language.
Okla means people humma means red, so Oklahoma translates to red people. Oklahoma has a large population of Native American people. Most live on tribal lands, sometimes in housing provided by the tribe. The state is divided into two zones that are occupied by eastern tribes and western tribes

3 Native American Tribes are Unique
Although there are some common elements, they vary significantly. They have different traditions, histories, and cultures. They have different ways of life. They vary is the extent of assimilation into majority culture. They speak different languages. American Indian Sign Language was used with many western plains tribes.

4 Tribes in this Study Cherokee Creek Chickasaw Choctaw Seminole

5 Indian Territory The United States government forced most of the Indians in the southeastern states to move to Indian Territory. Five tribes, known as the Five Civilized Tribes, were removed between 1827 and 1839.

6 The Cherokee Relocated from Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina between Lady of the Spring, Willard Stone

7 Creek Removed from Georgia to Indian Territory between 1827 -1832.
A Creek Warrior

8 Choctaw Removed to Indian Territory in 1830 from Mississippi and

9 Chickasaw Removed from Mississippi in 1835 by boat.

10 Seminole Removed with the Creeks from Florida. Dana Tiger

11 Other Tribes Relocated to Indian Territory
Some Tribes Were in Indian Territory When the Southeastern Tribes Were Removed Other Tribes Relocated to Indian Territory Eastern Oklahoma Quapaw Miami Wyandotte Ottawa Modoc Peoria Seneca-Cayuga Eastern Shawnee Osage Western Oklahoma Kiowa Comanche Arapaho Apache Delaware Sac and Fox Pawnee

12 1889 brought settlers to Oklahoma as free land became available.
Statehood: 1907

13 Oklahoma Tribes Have Common Historical Elements
Vanishing Culture and Language Efforts to preserve native languages Powerlessness Poverty Alcoholism Diabetes Unemployment Bingo and Gaming Annihilation Oppression Removal Relocation Mission Schools Indian Boarding Schools Disempowerment

14 The Native American Deaf Experience
Ethnographic, phenomenological research Phenomenological research is the study of human experience and aims at gaining a deeper understanding of the nature or meaning of our every day experiences. Two groups were involved: Native American Caregivers of Deaf Children Native American Deaf Adults

15 Description of Activities
Literature review which revealed that little information has been published regard Native American people who are deaf. Difficulty in identifying Native American deaf and hard of hearing children and adults in Oklahoma Traveled throughout state to different tribes. Met with community leaders and social workers. Met with teachers at OSD and other deaf education programs Searched through yearbooks Ask around

16 Findings The incidence of deafness is very low, especially in the Indigenous Oklahoma tribes and the western tribes where the etiology most often involves trauma or disease. However, every tribe had at least one member who was deaf or hard of hearing. Data pertaining to the Five Civilized Tribes revealed a higher incidence rate among their population.

17 Interviews with Caregivers
Interviews were conducted with 15 caregivers in Western Oklahoma. Nine interviews were with mothers. The others were with grandmothers or maternal aunts. Interviews were usually held in the yard, not in the house Sometimes a sibling served as an interpreter from English to the Native American language. They talked openly about their deaf children, cultural conflicts, and fears for the future. Interviews revealed that Native American mothers go through similar grieving processes as other hearing mothers of deaf children.

18 Interviews with Native American Deaf Adults
Challenges Geographic Isolation Most Native American adults live in the community of their birth. Access No phone service (They often had a TTY provided by the Deaf Services agency.) Of the 12 individuals identified, 8 were willing to share their stories Capturing the interview in written form since most requested not to be videotaped.

19 Findings Content analysis of narratives from interviews revealed 21 themes: Most Native American Deaf adults lack an understanding of etiology and prevention of hearing loss. Most were born in US Indian Hospitals Possible involvement of genetic deafness in Cherokee Tribe. They responded that most often traditional medicines were used to try to cure their deafness (medicine men, sweat lodges, etc.) Identification of Hearing Loss by Maternal Aunt Limited Use of Assistive Devices

20 Residency in Rural Areas of the State Lack of Residency Shifts
Native American Deaf people, even if they attended the residential school for the deaf for a period of time, returned to their Native American community. Isolation Most responded that they felt isolated and lonely. They were able to communicate with only a few individuals in their community and mostly through a home sign system. Shame Respondents reported that their families felt shame for their deafness. Mothers reported that their child was deaf because of something they had done previously. Communication Barriers No interpreters were identified in rural Native American communities. Sibling Serving as the Deaf Individual’s Interpreter Most of the sibling nearest the age of the Deaf individual served as his/her interpreter.

21 Utilization of American Indian Sign Language by western tribes more than eastern tribes.
Orality of Native American Culture Precludes Participation in that Culture Lack of Cultural Identity Respondents noted that they didn’t belong to Native American nor Deaf culture. Deterioration of communication skills with continued residency patterns in home community. Lack of Cultural Participation They reported tat even though they attended PowWows and other cultural events, they were on the margins. Changing Sites of Educational Programs Most often, individuals started school late, attended the residential school for a brief time, then moved back home to their neighborhood schools. Abandonment Individuals reported a strong feeling of abandonment when left at the residential school.

22 Family Members to Oversee Education
Often a family member would move to the community of the residential school in order to make sure the child was safe. Greater Awareness Increases Anger At the residential school, Native American Deaf individuals became aware of many things that made them feel angry and isolated in their home community. Societal Role As Caregiver As adults, most individuals reported that they served in the role of caregiver for elders in the community. Lack of Educational Achievement Most often respondents reported that they felt cheated out of their education. Lack of Employment Opportunities Unemployment is extremely high in Native American communities Translucency Schools often were oblivious to the Native American child enrolled in their school. When they looked at the child they saw a deaf child. Native American communities do the opposite. When they look at the child they see an Indian child, not the deafness. The child then is never viewed as a whole child.

23 Most Prevalent Theme Isolation, is a consequence of 17 out of 21 or 81% of the essential themes; therefore, isolation transcends or over-arches a majority of the findings in this study.

24 Further Investigation into Language: What Early Dictionaries Revealed
          Cherokee Language

25 Tribal Connection to Deaf Education
The Cherokee Nation Strong commitment to education Established an Asylum for the Insane, Deaf, and Blind Two missionaries (Mr. and Mrs. Long) established a school for blind children, then later added deaf children at Ft. Gibson, the last stop of the Trail of Tears

26 Current Research Activities
Focusing on the Cherokee Nation to determine if there existed schools for deaf children prior to removal. Working with Dr. Harry Lang of NTID

27 Webliography

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