Wántwint Inmí Tiináwit: A Reflection of What I Have Learned
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I do two things in my dissertation. One is to tell the history of academic research on my language from the perspective of a Native person who has been involved in this work as an assistant to non-Native researchers. The other is to explain more about my culture and language and how it works from the perspective of a Yakima person who has spoken and used the language her whole life. My most important task in this dissertation is to explain at more length some of the most basic vocabulary about our ancient culture and way of life. I do this by writing about different important parts of traditional life - life circles, sweathouse, ceremonies, horses, and foods - and explaining the words we use to talk about these and how those words explain the deeper meaning of what we do. I write this dissertation for the Ichishkíin speaking communities in hope that by documenting our lost traditions they will have a resource from which to learn our ancestors' ways and language. Detailing the traditional practices offers a much needed historical and social accounting of each. I include various dialects and practices shared by other Ichishkíin speaking communities. I incorporate texts, songs, descriptions of dances, and practices in Ichishkíin. This dissertation contributes also to the fields of sociolinguistics and theoretical linguistics, as well as historical and cultural anthropology. Despite the best efforts of some anthropologists and linguists, all the work done on Yakima Ichishkíin is by researchers from outside the community and is inevitably seen and presented through the lens of the English language, Euro-American culture, and the Western tradition of "objective" scholarship. I am in a unique position to present the research on my language as a contribution to academic scholarship but from a very different perspective, that of a Native speaker and scholar. Implicit in my view of scholarship is the way researchers should work with Native people; therefore, I address how linguists can better work with community members. I discuss the protocols and etiquette expected by Native people in working with non-Natives.