Naming the World
Language and Power Among the Northern Arapaho
As the Arapaho people resist Euro-American assimilation or domination, the Arapaho language and the idea that the language is sacred are key rallying points—but also key points of contestation. Cowell finds that while many at Wind River see the language as crucial for maintaining access to more-than-human power, others primarily view the language in terms of peer-oriented identities as Arapaho, Indian, or non-White. These different views lead to quite different language usage and attitudes in relation to place naming, personal naming, cultural metaphors, new word formation, and the understudied practice of folk etymology.
Cowell presents data from conversations and other natural discourse to show the diversity of everyday speech and attitudes, and he links these data to broader debates at Wind River and globally about the future organization of indigenous societies and the nature of Arapaho and indigenous identity.
“This thoroughly researched book gives new insight into the relationship between language and culture, with special focus on traditional ideology behind naming, place-names, neologism, and metaphor in Arapaho cultures, presenting indigenous perspectives in the Arapaho language.”—Margaret C. Field, Department of American Indian Studies, San Diego State University
“Cowell offers up a rarity: an accessible, linguistics-focused account of language teaching, learning, and change in a Native American community. With this book, he has seized upon subject matter for which rigorous linguistic description and community-driven conversations converge and cross-fertilize.”—M. Eleanor Nevins, Department of Anthropology, Middlebury College