Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Influence of Language on Culture and Identity: Resurgence of the Quechan Native American Tribal Language
by Sheffield, Ron, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2013, 173; 3557504
Abstract (Summary)

This study examined the common essence of language restriction and then resurgence among Quechan Native American elders. The data suggests that Quechan elders' sense of culture and identity was influenced by speaking the native language. Bourdieu's work on language and power were supported as socially constructed means of communication. Findings from this study provided empirical support for Hatch's Cultural Dynamics model. Erikson's work on identity was also supported with additional suggestions made to expand his final stage of psychosocial development for the Quechan Native American.

This research primarily focused on the individual level of analysis and provided practical application for the constructs of language, culture, and identity. In addition, this research also provided theoretical contributions for identity while embracing the existing body of knowledge. The research question, "How does speaking the native language affect one's sense of culture and identity?" was addressed through ten interviews with elders of the Quechan Native American Tribe.

Three distinct findings emerged from data gathered in this research. The first major finding indicated that language is a means of survival for the Quechan elders who forms much of their current reality on historical knowledge. The second finding suggests that the identity of Quechan elders is under reconstruction through the resurgence of the Quechan language and subsequent legitimization of that linguistic symbol. Lastly, the Quechan elders may be realigning their individual view of culture based on a combination of long-standing tribal knowledge and documentation presented by the dominant culture.

This study suggests a need to draw stronger theoretical connections between the constructs of identity and culture. On the individual level of analysis, culture and identity form and reform constantly to emerge as new entities. However, as this research has suggested, the individual may greatly influence the group's fundamental ideas of culture and identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marquardt, Michael J.
Commitee: Etzol, Pascal, Miller, Amy
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social research, Social psychology, Language, Native American studies
Keywords: Culture, Identity, Indigenous, Language, Native American, Quechan, Social science, Tribal language
Publication Number: 3557504
ISBN: 978-1-303-00636-4
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