Language Characteristics of Native American Children: Considerations for Assessment Today’s Native American children are descendants of a rich and colorful culture steeped in traditional lore and ceremony. Many of these children still speak their native language, live on their native tribal lands, and abide by the traditions of their ancient cultures (Harris, 1993) . Most of these children are ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2000
Language Characteristics of Native American Children: Considerations for Assessment
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Edgarita Long
    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
  • Christine Begay Vining
    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2000
Language Characteristics of Native American Children: Considerations for Assessment
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, December 2000, Vol. 7, 7-11. doi:10.1044/lle7.3.7
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, December 2000, Vol. 7, 7-11. doi:10.1044/lle7.3.7
Today’s Native American children are descendants of a rich and colorful culture steeped in traditional lore and ceremony. Many of these children still speak their native language, live on their native tribal lands, and abide by the traditions of their ancient cultures (Harris, 1993) . Most of these children are bilingual or multilingual, speaking Spanish, French, English, or other tribal languages in addition to their own native tongue (Leap, 1993; Inglebret, 1994). Then there are other Native American children who live in areas that were once tribal lands now occupied by the mainstream culture (Long & Christensen, 1998) . These latter Native American children live in neighborhoods with Caucasians and attend schools where the Native American child, who typically speaks only the English language, is in the racial minority. Even so, these nonreservation, English-speaking Native American children seem to evidence some of the same sociolinguistic characteristics as their reservation counterparts (Long, 1998a) . These similar characteristics are most likely influenced by similar childrearing practices. For example, Navajo mothers considered too much talking by children as “discourteous, restless, self-centered, and undisciplined” (Harris, 1993, p. 88). The Navajo mothers lived on a reservation and spoke the Navajo language. Similar traits were found in nonreservation, English-speaking Cherokee mothers. Long (1998a)  reported that the Cherokee mothers valued listening over talking and that Cherokee Indian children’s receptive language skills were significantly better than their expressive language skills. These similarities appear to suggest that all American Indians are the same; yet, they differ in many ways.
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