1 page anthropology discussion
Language revitalization and the (re)constituting of gender: Silence and women in Native California language revitalization Jocelyn Ahlers Abstract While many authors have investigated the processes by which children are socialized into gender roles within their communities of practice, and others have taken up an examination of the ways in which gender is a consideration in language endangerment and revitalization, the process of gender socialization in communities working towards language revitalization has been less well examined.
The purpose of this paper is to examine gender role socialization in the context of Native California language endangerment and revitalization. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which the ideologies linked to gender roles in the traditional cultures associated with endangered Native California languages of heritage are expressed and understood, particularly as they interact with gender ideologies from a surrounding, dominant society. The particular focus of this paper is an examination of the impact of those ideologies on the deployment of silence as a salient attribute of women’s speech in contexts which are framed as traditional and closely tied to Native California languages of heritage.
keywords: gender, socialization, language revitalization, native california Gender and Language G&L (PRINT) ISSN – G&L (ONLINE) ISSN –X Article Afﬁliation California State University, San Marcos, USA email: email@example.com G&L VOL 6.2 2012 309–337 © 2012, EQUINOX PUBLISHING www.equinoxpub.com doi: 10.1558/genl.v6i2.309 310 JOCELYN AHLERS Many authors have examined the processes by which children are socialized into roles, including gender identity, within their communities of practice (e.g. Garrett and Baquedano-Lopez 2002; Kulick and Schieﬀelin 2003; Ochs 2000; Paugh 2005; Schieﬀelin and Ochs 1986), and others have, directly or indirectly, taken up a consideration of the ways in which gender is a factor in language endangerment and revitalization (e.g. Cavanaugh 2006; Hinton 1994b; Kroskrity 1992). However, the intersection of these two areas – socialization into gender roles within the context of language endan- germent and revitalization – has been less often examined. It is important to note here that while the term ‘endangered’ has been usefully critiqued due to the often unexamined connotations which it carries (see, e.g., Errington 2003; Hill 2002), it is used in this paper for a number of reasons.
First, and centrally, it is the term most commonly used by members of the communities with whom the research upon which this paper is founded took place; my sense from conversations with these community members is that terms such as ‘endangered’ and ‘threatened’ convey the felt sense of pressure and threat from dominant English-speaking society, while a term like ‘contraction’, by contrast, is relatively bloodless and doesn’t invoke the history of forced assimilation which is central to Native Californians’ understandings of their own linguistic histories. Furthermore, ‘contraction’ and ‘contracting’ imply that the language in question continues to serve as a language of communication within some domains of use, even as the numbers of both speakers and domains of use diminish. In the case of California’s languages, the contraction which restricted the use of these languages within their historic social settings is of long standing, and in many cases, there have been no domains of use exclusive to languages of heritage until the relatively recent inception of language revitalization programs. 1 Communities which are engaged in the revitalization of endangered languages of heritage are particularly interesting settings for the examination of processes of gender socialization. Community members, in the process of reclaiming endangered languages of heritage, are also involved in the work of recreating those languages in the context of modern life. Similarly, but often below the level of conscious awareness or examination, community members are engaged in reclaiming and recon- stituting the social roles associated with their languages of heritage and the communities of practice deﬁned by those languages; this includes gender roles. These projects aren’t separable. Gender roles and their associated ideologies interact closely with the linguistic resources which are consti- tutive of those roles in daily life and discourse (see, e.g., Silverstein 1985).
As community members strive to document and analyse features of their language of heritage and to bring that language into regular use again, LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 311 those features and that usage include those which are deployed in the expression of social roles, including gender. This process is informed by ideologies about gender, community membership and, often, ‘authenticity’ (see Bucholtz 2003 for a useful problematization of this term, discussed further below), which in turn inform community members’ decisions to take up particular social roles and associated linguistic practices – or not.
The purpose of this paper is to examine gender role socialization in the context of Native California language endangerment and revital- ization. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which the ideologies linked to gender roles in the traditional cultures associated with endangered Native California languages of heritage are expressed and understood, particularly as they interact with gender ideologies from a surrounding, dominant society. The particular focus of this paper is an examination of the impact of those ideologies on the deployment of silence as a salient attribute of women’s speech in contexts which are framed as traditional and closely tied to Native California languages of heritage. This examination of the iterative (re)constituting of the linguistic practices associated with gender roles highlights processes which may be general- izable to gender socialization more broadly.
Silence, as an attribute of women’s speech, has long been a topic of feminist scholarship. Early research (e.g. Zimmerman and West 1975; Fishman 1978) examined the ‘deﬁnite and patterned ways in which the power and dominance enjoyed by men in other contexts are exercised in their conversational interaction with women’ (Zimmerman and West 1975:105), including through mechanisms which silence women’s voices and choices of topics in conversations. This research suggested that women’s roles in this process were either to accept and manage their one-down position, or to exert resistance against it. Later research, however, illustrates that this one-to-one correlation between silence and gender identity does not capture the complexity of the situation. Silence can, in fact, be an index of control in a conversation in places like the courtroom (e.g. Mendoza-Denton 1995), and silence as deployed by a holder of knowledge can be interpreted as an extremely powerful conversational move (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 1992:477). Thus, while silence, gender and the exercise of power are intertwined, ‘silence, like any linguistic form, gains diﬀerent meanings and has diﬀerent material eﬀects within speciﬁc institutional and cultural contexts’ (Gal 1990:176). Furthermore, linguistic forms and their associated ideologies are not ﬁxed, nor are they always taken up unquestioningly by members of a particular speech community, as shown below in the case of Native Californian women. 312 JOCELYN AHLERS Silence is, of course, not solely a characteristic of gendered speech. As a feature of Native American speech, silence has been shown by a number of researchers to serve diﬀerent sorts of functions than those described in the research on silence and gender. For example, Basso (1970; 1979) suggests that Western Apaches ‘refrain from speaking’ in service to several social purposes. In one set of circumstances, Western Apaches refrain from speaking in ‘social situations in which participants perceive their relationships vis-à-vis one another to be ambiguous and/or unpre- dictable’ (1970:225). In such instances, silence is conditioned by a speaker’s relationship to a particular interlocutor, rather than due to the speaker’s own identity or social role, or the setting within which the conversation takes place. In a very diﬀerent set of circumstances, Western Apaches also refrain from speaking in order to exclude White outsiders (Basso 1979).
The speech and silence of Warm Springs Indian children are conditioned by speech event participant structures in such a way that they are more likely to refrain from speaking in exactly those situations in which their non-Native classmates are most primed to engage in talk (Philips 1970).
Native American tribal communities aren’t the only groups which assign very diﬀerent sorts of meanings to the deployment of silence, as seen in Bauman’s (1983) examination of the linguistic practices of seventeenth- century Quakers. In fact, collections of research on the uses of silence to do a range of social and ideological work (e.g. Tannen and Saville-Troike 1985; Jaworski 1997) point to its multivalenced complexity. Silence is potentially performative of a range of identities, depending on the person who is refraining (or being restrained) from speaking, the interlocutor and the setting.
The analysis in this paper is informed by Hymes’ call for an ethnography of communication (1974) and results in a description of a system in ﬂux; this analysis uncovers the organization of the use of silence as one of the verbal means by which gendered identity is done in Native Californian communities, as well as the ideologies associated with its deployment. This paper’s particular focus on girls and young women in Native California tribal communities is driven by an interest in their negotiation of pressures placed on them by conﬂicting ideologies associated with the use of silence as a gendered linguistic attribute. Extant documentation suggests that the deployment of silence as a gendered discourse form is of long standing within tribal communities, and it has been extended into the English-dominant interactions which are typical of modern Native Californian communities and experience. This transfer of discourse strategies to English creates the confounding circumstances associated with the use of silence in particular, due to the ideologies associated with those forms in use as they take place within dominant English-speaking communities and in English-speaking LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 313 tribal communities. The lens of socialization, as suggested by Kulick and Schieﬀelin (2003:4), ‘can generate insight into processes that eﬀect not only reproduction, but also change’; changes in gendered behaviour are one result of the negotiations that take place as girls and young women are socialized into gender roles within their communities of practices. In eﬀect, tribal communities are engaged in both revitalizing and, to at least some degree, reinventing language and, by extension, facets of language use such as gendered linguistic behaviour.
An analysis of this process of socialization must include the connections (as called for by Silverstein 1979 and Woolard 2008) among linguistic forms, the social use(s) of those forms, and ‘human reﬂections on those forms in use’ (Woolard 2008:436). Thus, this paper begins with a description of silence as a linguistic form saliently associated with feminine gendered identity in settings which are modern incarnations of traditional practice within some Native California tribal communities. This discussion includes not only a description of the ways in which silence is deployed as a strategy in interaction, but also ideologies associated with that deployment by social actors. Gender alone is not determinative of the use of silence; setting is an important factor, too, in that women will disproportionately utilize silence as a conversational tool relative to men, but only in certain circumstances.
This description, however, is not enough in itself to explain the sometimes conﬂicting ideologies that some girls and young women apply to the semiotic use of silence and concomitant social restriction in certain settings to index womanhood. In order to achieve a deeper analysis of this phenomenon, it is necessary to take into account the simultaneous alternate socializations these young women are engaged in.
While discussions of bivalency in the literature (e.g. Woolard 1999) have suggested that bivalent utterances can be deployed by bilingual speakers as one approach to negotiating their multiple identities simultaneously, these discussions to some degree rely on the understanding that the strategies in question are positively or, at worst, neutrally interpreted by the multiply- identiﬁed audiences at whom they are directed. As I show below, women’s silence, in the context of Native Californian communities, is multivalenced and the valences associated with silence can be oppositional. This multiva- lence is connected both to internal community ideologies associated with gender roles, and to broader ideologies about women’s speech and access to social roles. As young women are socialized into their communities of practice, they must navigate these multiple understandings in developing their own sense of their positions as women within the context of their tribal communities. 314 JOCELYN AHLERS Background In order to adequately understand the socializing activities described below, it is important to situate them within the larger picture of language loss and revitalization which is shared background knowledge for Native Californians engaged in the revitalization of their languages of heritage.
Of the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world today, some 95% fall into the category ‘endangered’ to a greater or lesser degree (Krauss 2007:3; see also Crystal 2000; Nettle and Romaine 2000). In California, the situation is worse; of the more than 100 languages spoken in what is now California at the time of European contact, fewer than 40 currently have speakers (Hinton 1994a; Hinton and Hale 2001; Mithun 1998), and all of those languages are ‘severely’ or ‘critically’ endangered (Krauss 2007:1). Most languages have fewer than ten speakers, and most of those speakers are elders, often in their 70s and 80s. In the majority of cases, those speakers have not used their languages of heritage as languages of daily communication for their entire adult lives, or even since childhood, which can complicate the documentation and revitalization eﬀorts of tribal communities.
Most of the data presented in this paper come from my work and interviews with members of three tribal communities (described brieﬂy below), and from my documentation and analysis of a number of public events whose focus is Native California life, languages and communities.
These public events include religious ceremonies, cultural gatherings, language revitalization workshops, trainings and conferences, and larger conferences focusing on a number of issues having to do with the health and well-being of Native communities. This documentation and analysis was undertaken as part of a long-term project whose goal is to understand the speech economy of modern Native Californian tribal communities.
The ﬁeldnotes which have come from years of participant observation within the three tribal communities described brieﬂy below form the heart of this ethnographic project. As I became more interested in examining the processes of socialization which surround the adoption of silence as a gendered discourse feature, I came to realize that the moments where silence and absence took place, and the explanations that were associated with those moments, were exactly those moments which were not caught on video or audiotape as part of the language documentation projects which accompanied my participant observation in these communities.
Several factors contributed to this documentary gap. First, many of the conversations in which people comment on the process of language and culture reclamation take place outside of the context of formal documen- tation work – in quick phone calls, over dinner, while driving between work sites, while video- and audiotapes are changed out of recorders (in LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 315 earlier ﬁeldwork), or while the data is burned to CDs and DVDs (in later years). Second, while I have received permission from tribal members to describe aspects of certain ceremonies in publications, recordings of most traditional ceremonial events is prohibited. I therefore sought to engage in interviews with women from the tribes described below. In doing so, I found that while women were willing to talk to me about their attitudes towards their socialization into gendered roles within their tribal communities, they were not willing to do so on tape, and they wished their anonymity to be preserved. The reasons for this centre around the problematic nature of oﬀering critique (or perceived critique) of these practices in a climate which valorizes authenticity. 2 This is especially true for those who are most likely to feel the ideological tensions described below, often because of their limnal status as bicultural members of the group, or as neophytes to cultural practice; it is precisely these group members whose behaviour and attitudes are most at risk of being labelled ‘non-authentic’, and who therefore have the greatest vested interest in engaging in the acquisition of these gendered identities and their concomitant indexical linguistic forms.
Thus, the interviews were not recorded except by permission in ﬁeldnotes and personal details are heavily protected; given the small population and intimate connections within most Native California tribal communities, this includes speciﬁc tribal aﬃliation, but all interviewees were members of the three tribes described here.
The majority of the data come from work completed between 2002 and 2009 during an ongoing project of linguistic documentation and revital- ization with the Elem Pomo (often referred to as the Southeastern Pomo in extant documentation). This tribe has a 50-acre reservation in Lake County on the banks of Clear Lake in northern California. The Elem Pomo language had two dialects (extant documentation is cited in the references). There is currently one speaker of the Sulphur Bank dialect of Elem Pomo, Mrs Loretta Kelsey, a woman in her sixties who used the language as a language of regular communication with her mother, with whom she lived until she was in her thirties, when her mother passed away. When we began our work together, she had not used the language regularly since that time.
For much of the project, she was engaged in teaching the language to her nephew, who is a leader, in the eﬀort to revive his language of heritage.
He has used the knowledge acquired in his work with his aunt to teach the language to tribal youth, both boys and girls. He is also a leader in the eﬀort to revive other cultural practices, including religious ceremonies, songs and the making of regalia for ceremonies.
I have also had the opportunity to talk with members of several bands of Luiseño Indians regarding their participation in projects whose focus is the documentation and revitalization of the Luiseño language. There are 316 JOCELYN AHLERS six bands of Luiseño Indians whose territories exist in the eastern part of San Diego county; these bands are the Pechanga, Soboba, Pauma, Rincon, La Jolla and Pala. The general sense in these interviews is that there are no longer any speakers of the language who learned it as children in the home, although interviewees do mention a number of adult speakers and semi-speakers, some of whom have learned Luiseño as a second language.
The most commonly cited speaker is Dr Eric Elliot, a non-tribal member who learned the language while engaged in a language documentation project, working with two elders who are women; his work in curriculum development forms a strong component of ongoing language revital- ization programmes in several bands, but particularly Pechanga, which has developed a very successful immersion elementary school which is accessible to all children who are members of that band. Furthermore, there are a number of active projects involving the revitalization of cultural practices outside the realm of language among the bands, some associated with the school and language revitalization and some led by other groups within these communities.
Finally, data also come from an ongoing project of documentation and revitalization among the Kawaiisu, a non-federally-recognized tribe whose traditional homelands are in the western Mohave and Tehachapi region of California. There are currently three speakers of this Uto-Aztecan language, all actively engaged in language revitalization work in family groups of at least three generations. These speakers, Mrs Lucille Hicks, Mrs Betty Hernandez and Mr Luther Girado, are siblings. As in the groups described above, cross-gender language teaching/learning pairs are common.
In these tribal communities, as in others, opportunities for gender social- ization arise that diﬀer from the usual pattern in several ways. For example, the language is being acquired by adults in almost all Native California communities. Furthermore, in a number of instances, language learners may never have access to an exemplar of the speech variety associated with their gendered identity, given the relative paucity of ﬂuent speakers of any gender. This experience is by no means uncommon in situations of extreme language endangerment where, as suggested by the descriptions above, both linguistic and temporal resources are limited. In such cases, elders who can and wish to teach their languages of heritage work with youth who are interested in learning those languages; the gender roles of the teacher and learner are, typically, minor considerations given the driving need to extend the speaking community of such languages by at least a generation.
However, this does raise the question of how and when opportunities arise for language learners to be socialized into the culturally appropriate use of gendered linguistic attributes. LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 317 Socializing gender Clearly, in situations such as these, socialization into a particular gendered role is not straightforward, and is complicated by number of additional factors. Key among these is the fact that most Native Californian youth do not learn their languages of heritage as ﬁrst languages in the home, and that for many, engagement with traditional cultural practice begins in later childhood or even young adulthood. Furthermore, regardless of when exposure to traditional cultural practice and concomitant socialization into participation in such practice begins, young tribal members are engaged in simultaneous processes of socialization into dominant Western gendered practice, linguistic and otherwise. These multiple processes are further complicated and entangled due to the linguistic situation within Native California communities; that is, English is the language associated both with dominant Western and with tribal cultural practice in a modern setting. In all of the cases examined below, traditional tribal gendered linguistic practice takes place in English as the encoding language. This multivalenced use of English can be and is, in other circumstances, employed proﬁtably to index multiple identities within the context of a single speech event (Ahlers 2006); in the case of the particular gendered linguistic strategy that is the focus of this paper – silence – such positively valenced simultaneities are not as readily available.
I turn now to a presentation of some of the kinds of gendered linguistic and social practices in evidence at these socializing events, pointing to the links which exist between these linguistic signs and other, non-linguistic gendered behaviours that are saliently associated with such spaces. Included are some of the key elements of the broader sociocultural context within which these speech events take place; central among these is the role of menstruation as a deﬁning attribute of womanhood traditionally, and to a large extent, currently. This central role underpins the indexical relationship which exists between the discourse practices associated with menstruation and the discourse practices of girls and women more generally. This sets the stage for an analysis of the attitudes of young women towards their own socialization into the gendered linguistic and social behaviours that they observe. Below I describe speciﬁc instances that are representative of broader patterns.
Ceremonies and traditional gatherings Traditional ceremonies are a central location for socialization for a number of reasons. Ceremonies, by their nature as modern incarnations of traditional practice, index a host of values associated with modern 318 JOCELYN AHLERS tribal communities. By contrast with other potential opportunities for socialization as described below, the activities and roles associated with ceremonial gatherings can be assumed to be those most closely tied to tribal identity. Thus, participants have the opportunity to observe, practice and acquire semiotic resources which are clearly indexes of their roles within their tribal communities of practice. I focus here on one semi-annual world-renewal ceremony that I have attended on a number of occasions and have described elsewhere (Ahlers 2006). This ceremony is fairly repre- sentative of the types of traditional events which are the focus of modern revitalization eﬀorts in tribal communities in California. Such events tend to be public, attended by multiple unrelated families and, often, members of other tribes and non-tribal members; they also tend to privilege male leadership roles. The particular ceremony described here takes place over a four-day period and involves two main groups of ceremony participants:
the men performing the ceremony, who are engaged in that performance for the entire four-day period without sleep and with minimal rest; and the ceremony’s observers, who frequently stay for most of the four-day period themselves. These observers consist mostly of members of the hosting and neighbouring tribes, whose members are often also involved in the performance of the ceremony. Some non-tribal members also attend the ceremony, by invitation from the particular family who takes the lead in hosting the event.
The public events of these four days take place in two locations: in the roundhouse, which is the sacred space of the tribe, and in an arbour just outside the roundhouse. Behaviour within the roundhouse is fairly circum- scribed and private, and is described here only brieﬂy. The purpose of these two dances, generally, is for puriﬁcation and to call down blessings on the tribe; these dances are referred to by tribal members as world- renewal ceremonies. During the ceremony, one man leads the singing while another man drums. A group of men accompanies them with both singing and clapper sticks. The men take turns dancing in regalia, in pairs, towards each of the four directions. Women, children and men who are not ﬁlling oﬃcial roles in the ceremony are the audience, and they stand outside the circle of dancing; they also dance during each of the singing stages. Many stay in the roundhouse for most of the ceremony and sleep outside the circle when they are tired. These audience/participants do not wear regalia. Many of the adult audience members also strive to stay awake during the entire dance period, in order to strengthen the ceremony. The other location of public events during this time is the arbour which stands just outside the roundhouse. This arbour serves as a cover for several long tables laid end to end. The arbour is the location for the group meals which occur three times a day: late breakfast, early dinner and midnight snack. LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 319 Gender is key in deﬁning the roles played by participants in the ceremony. The central roles during the ceremony itself – dancers, singers, drummers, ﬁre-tenders – are ﬁlled only and always by men and boys; the ability to assume the role of dancer is an important indication that a boy is passing into young adulthood, and his ﬁrst dance is special and marked in a number of ways. Girls and women, on the other hand, have as a central responsibility during the four-day ceremony the task of cooking and delivering the three meals each day that feed the dancers and other participants. Women associated with the hosting family are also tasked to some degree with ensuring that there will be enough food at each meal.
Outwardly-directed public speaking during the ceremony is almost always entirely performed by men. These speeches occur at various times during the four days, but perhaps the most consistent times are at the beginning and end of the entire four-day cycle, and before and after each meal. This central speaking role is associated with the roles of men as ceremonial leaders and as central players in the ceremony itself. Women’s speech takes place in the peripheral spaces, both within the roundhouse and around the table, and often takes the form of commentary on singing, dancing and attendance by and behaviour of other families and tribal members.
(This correlation between social roles and spatial location, as well as the peripheral roles of women in public ceremonial contexts, occurs in other communities, as well; e.g. Duranti 1994.) Women’s speech is further restricted by their ability to fulﬁll their roles in the ceremony at all. Menstrual taboos prohibit menstruating women from entering the roundhouse, interacting with ceremonial dancers or cooking for the ceremony. These taboos are understood to be modern incarnations of traditional practices associated with menstruation, a deﬁning attribute of womanhood in many, if not most, Native California cultures. Historically, Native Californian cultural constructs surrounding menstruation have typically involved a restriction of the activities of the menstruating woman. Some, but not all, tribes had special ceremonies for girls at menarche; of the tribal communities that are the focus of these data, the Luiseño did, but the Elem did not. Subsequent restriction of activities generally focused on two areas of life: food preparation and ceremonies.
Women who were menstruating were not allowed to enter sacred spaces, to touch regalia or musical instruments used in ceremonies or other people participating in ceremonies, and were not allowed, themselves, to participate in ceremonies. Furthermore, they were not allowed to prepare food for others during that part of their cycle nor to eat with them. In many cases, food gathering was also restricted and sometimes a woman’s husband was banned from hunting for that period of time (see, e.g., Kroeber 1976; Powers 1976). 320 JOCELYN AHLERS The modern incarnations of these practices vary, but are generally more limited in scope. Typically women may not enter sacred spaces while menstruating, nor touch regalia, nor cook for ceremonial gatherings. As these major gatherings may occur only once or twice during the year, the result of such restrictions is that a girl or woman could miss opportunities to participate in these central modern cultural events, depending on their timing. However, restrictions on cooking on a monthly basis have not been revived in any tribal community that I know of. Thus, these absences do not take the form of a monthly hiatus from everyday work, but rather a potential restriction of access to a major community celebration. While the policing of these boundaries may appear loose and mostly self-managed (e.g. in the non-communal-living context of modern life), one interviewee described her youthful observation of a female elder in her community who claimed she could identify a menstruating woman by smell; this elder pointed out such women loudly and publicly at ceremonies and tribal gatherings if she perceived them to be in violation any of these restrictions.
Such public policing of these gender restrictions socialize young women into understanding not only the potential spiritual risks of violating the rules, but the social and emotional risks as well. Conversations with elders Another key venue for socialization occurs in circumstances in which tribal youth and tribal elders or other community leaders interact with the speciﬁc goal of discussing tribal history and traditional cultural practice; such socializing situations are also useful for ﬁeld linguists, who are able to piggyback to some degree on the role of cultural neophyte played by tribal youth (see, e.g., Ahlers 2009). Note that these situations are distinct from those involving language documentation – a non-traditional activity – in which the deployment of silence described here would be considered inappro- priately uncommunicative. Conversational interactions in these situations often take the form of question and answer, with neophytes framing and posing questions of interest to them, and elders answering, often at length; these answers themselves are important in socialization, in that the kinds of associations made by elders in longer answers provide questioners with information not only about the question at hand, but also about the kinds of cultural associations that are linked to the topic they have raised.
Another important form of socialization which takes place in these circumstances has to do with the acquisition of knowledge about which kinds of questions are appropriate to ask or to even voice out loud, and which are not. (See Briggs 1986 for a detailed analysis of the many facets of this issue in using ‘the interview’ as part of ﬁeldwork.) When tribal LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 321 youth – or other neophytes such as ﬁeld linguists – ask questions which are considered to be inappropriate or importunate, elders’ responses diﬀer in important ways which are drawn along gender lines. Elders who are men are likely to respond to such questions by explaining why the question is inappropriate, for example because it touches on topics which are taboo, or because it is phrased in such a way that the question does not reﬂect an adequate understanding of tribal culture or worldview. They may also help the questioner to either restate or reframe the question, or to ﬁnd a more appropriate question to ask instead. In the course of such explanation and redirection, the questioner often obtains a great deal of information about tribal culture and cultural practice, and may even end up with an answer to the original question, embedded within the concomitant discussion.
At a metalevel, the questioner also obtains data about appropriate topics for questions, often including associated ideologies regarding the reasons why such questions touch on inappropriate topics and about how such questions are handled and deﬂected.
Elders who are women, by contrast, are far more likely to simply fall silent when asked such questions, and to wait for the questioner to either oﬀer a reframed question, or to change the subject. This response tactic oﬀers to the neophyte data which are less clear; the questioner must attempt to interpret the silence for herself, based on her extant cultural knowledge, developing her own sense of whether it is the topic itself that is not available for explicit discussion and why that might be, or whether it was her framing of the question that is the site of the conversational gaﬀe.
(See, e.g., Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003:199 for a similar point with regard to the diﬃculties inherent in the interpretation of silence as a conver- sational turn.) Such responses also, as with the more verbose responses described above, lead to the development of associated language ideologies and oﬀer data at a metalevel with regard to ways and means for handling and deﬂecting such questions. Interestingly, while language revitalization conferences appear to condition diﬀerent sorts of linguistic behaviours on the part of women (as discussed further below), in language teaching and learning situations which privilege a more traditional relationship between teacher and learner (such as the Master-Apprentice Program in California) female elders and female apprentices still refrain from speaking, which in turn has unexpected beneﬁts for learning outcomes (Hinton 1994a).
Gendered speech in non-traditional settings By contrast, there are other settings in which women do a great deal of speaking, often even dominating conversation. The sites which form the context of the gendered language use discussed in this section are less 322 JOCELYN AHLERS clearly delineated than those analysed above, and have more overlap with socializing sites associated with Western, or at least non-tribally speciﬁc, conversational practice; this overlap contributes to the development of multiple interpretations of gendered linguistic behaviour.
As one example, I describe here a videotaped group interview that I and a research partner conducted in the home of one of our interviewees on her tribe’s reservation. It was attended by a group which was fairly evenly divided both by gender and by age. Given my earlier observations of gendered conversational behaviours among this group at public events, I had expected that the men in the group would do most of the on-camera talking, and that women would engage in the usual sideline speaking and commentary. By contrast, women did the vast majority of the speaking.
Of 91 conversational turns in the interview (this number does not include interviewer questions), 78 responses came from women and 13 from men; of those 13, almost all of them were the responses of one elder who is a central ﬁgure in the issue that was the focus of the interview. In general these turns were of approximately the same length.
At one point during the interview, as we were changing out discs in our recorder, I turned to another one of the men in the room, an adult of approximately 40 years of age, and told him that we would be glad to hear any input that he might have on the interview topic; he demurred, telling me that we were in a home and that the women should therefore do the talking. I discuss below some of the implications of this indication that conversational space is divided by gender, as well as some indications that such a division is of long standing.
In such circumstances, context plays an important role in signifying to socializing neophytes the identity with which they should associate a particular linguistic practice. Woolard states that ‘[y]oung people take up the elements of style right along with, and as inherent parts of, the situation, the genre, and the stance or identity that they index’ (2008:445), but this adoption of both style elements and concomitant links to identity relies on the ability of neophytes to categorize a particular situation as belonging to a more general class. From the perspective of youth who are engaged in the process of socialization into gendered roles within their tribal communities, the particular setting ‘home’ might be diﬃcult to easily categorize as belonging to a speciﬁcally tribal, or traditional, context. That is to say, many of the families engaged in the interview have some members who are enrolled in the tribe and some who are not; this is by no means atypical, even for families who reside on the reservation. This means that socializing events which take place within homes and within the context of ‘family’ cannot always be easily categorized as input associated with a tribal identity, as opposed to another available identity such as a broader LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 323 pan-Indian or even Anglo identity, depending on the ethnic identiﬁcation of a parent or sibling. Thus, the dominance of women’s speech in the home could be linked for neophytes not with tribal language ideologies, but rather with contrasting language ideologies acquired through simulta- neous socialization into other communities of practice.
There is one other context within which women speak in ways and amounts that are equal to men. This is within the context of public events whose focus is modern tribal life and language and cultural revival, such as conferences, workshops and trainings. Women are often central organizers of and speakers at such events, and participate equally with men in both outwardly-directed public speaking (including the use of languages of heritage as a way of marking out speech events in terms of social orientation, see, e.g., Ahlers 2006), and in the kinds of sideline commentary described above. However, as with the female-dominated speaking space of the interview, these events are not easily categorized as contexts for socialization into speciﬁc tribal gendered practice. These events are often organized in ways that are associated with Western public events, and include audience members, speakers and organizers who are non-Native.
Furthermore, these are not traditional activities – in fact, they are clearly understood by participants to be necessary only because traditional ways have been disrupted. Thus, it could be diﬃcult for a neophyte to determine whether the gendered linguistic behaviours displayed in such contexts are to be associated with identity as a tribal member, a conference-goer or with some other broader identity. In fact, due to its similarities to classrooms and conferences, rather than to more traditional tribal events, the social- ization associated with, for example, classroom discourse is likely to be triggered for participants. Given an early and ongoing exposure to, and socialization into, praxis associated with dominant English language use, coupled with early gender socialization linked to language socialization, the dominant language ideologies indexed by women’s silence may be ‘louder’ and more available for access in these settings than subaltern interpretations. In the context of these multiple ongoing and simultaneous processes, the potential for a particular linguistic feature such as silence to be multivalent is high.
Thus, to summarize, Native Californian women’s silence is most predictable in settings which are co-indexical with ‘traditional’ and ‘authentic’ tribal activities. In those situations, women’s voices are less prominent, either because they do not partake of roles associated with public speech or because they are not present due to restrictions associated with their sex. There is a dichotomy between those settings which are conceptualized as ‘traditional’ – that is, as being activities which are ‘the same’ as those engaged in by past members of a tribal community, and 324 JOCELYN AHLERS therefore intertextually linked to those past practices – and those which are not interpreted through those same intertextual links (Briggs and Bauman 1992). Traditional activities include events such as ceremonies (often reclaimed after a hiatus in practice) and more commonplace pursuits such as elders instructing youth. Activities which are not concep- tualized as being strictly traditional, but which are nevertheless important in the current construction of Native California life, include events such as language revitalization conferences, language documentation, group interviews, and so on.
In the context of ceremonies, there are two kinds of roles – those which involve public, outward-facing speaking and singing, and those which do not. Both men and women ﬁll the not-speaking role, but only men ﬁll the public, outward-facing speaking/singing role. Within the not-speaking role, women are subject to further restrictions which can prohibit their presence; men are not subject to such restrictions. In the context of elders’ instruction of youth, both men and women fulﬁll that role; women refrain from speaking as part of that role much more often than men do. Note that in both settings, the absence of both male and female individuals can also be (and often is) taken as an index of disinterest in the reclamation of language and culture. In ‘non-traditional’ activities (language revital- ization conferences, for example, or group interviews with researchers), both men and women can ﬁll any of the available roles, no prohibition exists on participation for either, and neither is more likely to refrain from speaking than the other. Absence here can also be taken as indexical of a lack of interest in language/culture reclamation. The result is that silence is predictably associated with women in settings which are understood by community members to be linked to tradition. These settings in turn are linked to ideologies which valorize tradition and the authentic reclamation of traditional language, activities and concomitant social roles.
Thus, silence carries with it ‘added indexical baggage’ (Silverstein 1985:253), as shown in Table 1 below:
Table 1: The ‘added indexical baggage’ associated with silence silence/refraining women in traditional, = knowing how to be from speaking = public, ceremonial settings ‘authentic’ non-presence/absence = menstruation (which in turn = knowing how to be ‘authentic’) (women); OR = non-active in cultural reclamation (women or men) men in private traditional settings (?) LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 325 When deployed by women in a public setting, silence is multiva- lenced, and these valences are not just neutral, but are, or at least carry the possibility of being, oppositional – a silent woman can simultaneously be a woman who knows how to deploy linguistic resources as a traditional woman, and/or a woman who is not an active participant in linguistic and cultural reclamation.
Conﬂicting ideologies The situation is further complicated by the simultaneous socialization of Native Californian girls and young women into ideologies associated with their gendered behaviour both in their tribal communities and in dominant society. In order to adequately understand how girls and young women interpret these socializing acts and take up the gendered linguistic and social behaviours suggested by them, it is necessary to further explore the ‘human reﬂections’ (Woolard 2008:436) on these gendered behaviours in use. This in turn illuminates the conﬂict perceived by some young women in negotiating their gender roles within their communities of practice.
Of particular interest here is ways in which cultural knowledge has, and has not, been transmitted, and the consequences for socialization into gendered cultural practice.
The endangered status of Native California languages has a number of ramiﬁcations that must be taken into account when examining social- ization into gender roles within tribal communities in the modern context. The ﬁrst of these is the shared understanding by tribal members of the importance of language to the cultural futures of tribes, and the concomitant sense of pressure, associated with the threat of loss, to acquire and maintain ‘authentic’ linguistic and cultural practices. While ‘authen- ticity’ as a concept has been usefully examined and problematized (e.g.
Bucholtz 2003), it nevertheless retains ideological weight in situations of extreme language contraction, and is often invoked as a goal of revival projects, even as it is sometimes expressed as an unreachable or idealistic goal. Such desires for ‘authenticity’ intrinsically reach back in history even as, at least in some cases, modern ideologies are applied to the interpre- tation and revitalization of past practices (this phenomenon can be seen in all of the papers in this volume).
Given this valorization of authenticity, the question of authority becomes crucial in socialization. Generally speaking, elders are preferred sources of both socializing acts and associated ideologies. However, this is not unproblematic. Elders often express fears that the knowledge that they share widely could be misused or disseminated inappropriately; these fears lead some elders to limit the extent to which they share cultural knowledge 326 JOCELYN AHLERS or can lead to requests that dissemination of, for example, published materials, be limited. On a more practical level, many tribal communities are widely scattered, on and oﬀ traditional tribal lands, which constrains opportunities for access to elders by younger tribal members who are interested in learning their languages and cultures of heritage.
One result of this situation is that documentation typically forms an important source of data, linguistic and cultural. This documentation includes, for example, anthropological and linguistic publications and archived ﬁeldnotes, historical records, and newspaper articles. Most of the older records were created by people – trained ﬁeldworkers and members of the public more generally – who were not members of the tribal communities they were describing. There are fears among tribal members that documentation is not always accurate, ﬂawed either due to misun- derstandings on the part of documenting linguists and anthropologists, or due to tribal members who deliberately provided misleading information.
More subtle is the question of the information that is lacking; there were (and still are) topics which tribal members were likely to avoid explicitly discussing with outsiders, who may not even have seen the lacunae that resulted from those silences. Furthermore, researchers have sometimes misinterpreted data, assigning gender signiﬁcance where there is none, or missing gender associations where they do exist (see Kimball 1987 for an excellent example of such a misinterpretation and later reanalysis).
Documentation of gendered practice, linguistic and otherwise, is likely to have gaps for all of these reasons. As a result, it is often necessary, in the context of linguistic and cultural revitalization, for community members to ﬁll in these documentary blanks by creating intertextual links between modern incarnations of gender and gendered roles and salient discourse features associated with those roles, in order to create generalizations about ‘how women speak’.
One speciﬁc example of this process is the connection between the gendered use of silence, as described above, and historic and modern social practices surrounding menstruation, as a clearly gendered phenomenon.
Not only is this one of the areas of women’s practice that is regularly mentioned in extant documentation (even when detail is lacking), but it is also one of the conditions which triggers limitations of women’s presence – and therefore women’s voices – in many of the traditional ceremonial events being revived today. Thus, practices, discourses and ideologies surrounding menstruation become a body of knowledge to which women’s discourse features, especially silence, can be linked, and, through processes of intertextuality, interpreted.
Menstruation as an index of womanhood, and as one key deﬁner of women’s activities in traditional cultural practice, leads to the semiotic use of LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 327 discourse practices surrounding menstruation as indexical of womanhood as well. The discourse practices associated with menstruation emphasize the socialization of young women into the practice of refraining from speech, and into associated ideologies of limitation and restriction. First, as described above, restriction of access to certain spaces and activities in turn restricts the potential for speech in those places. Furthermore, discussion about menstruation is itself full of lacunae and silences. The most common way to talk about menstruation and practices associated with it is to avoid explicit discussion at all. One example of a typical socializing statement, which could be made by either a man or a woman, is: ‘A woman can’t go into the roundhouse at certain times’, accompanied by a signiﬁcant look.
‘A woman can’t touch that [usually regalia] when she’s on her thing’, is the most explicit such a statement might be; a phrase such as ‘her moon’ might be substituted instead of ‘her thing’. Note here the similarity of such circumlocutions to the kinds of euphemisms deployed in public contexts in the United States more broadly; phrases such as ‘monthly visitor’, ‘that time of the month’ and so on bear enough resemblance to ‘her thing’ and ‘her moon’ that the ideologies associated with the use of such phrases can easily be transferred from one cultural context to another. Given the lacunae in past documentation with regard to traditional ways of discussing menstru- ation and menstrual practices, it is not possible to determine whether these discourse styles are convergently or causally related from a diachronic perspective, but the synchronic overlap is clear.
Such silences are often reinforced by modern attitudes and practices which can place social sanctions on people, particularly women, who talk about the wrong things at the wrong times. One example of this arose during an interview I conducted with a woman in her thirties who is a teacher in a language programme for her tribe; she is a latecomer to tribal practice, as she was raised without close ties to her tribal community and began socialization into community practice in early adulthood. During our interview (which she asked not to be recorded), she was very careful as she answered my questions to point me towards elders and other cultural experts with regard to many topics, and expressed great trepidation about discussing any cultural traditions with anyone at all. She described a time when, having learned new information about her culture, she excitedly shared it with other tribal members, and was chastised strongly by tribal elders for doing so. In our interview, she stated that she was not sure exactly what had made her actions inappropriate, and said that she was therefore not sure when or how she could share that knowledge, so she felt it was safer, culturally, not to take the chance. Such socialization is not uncommon, and appears to be a result of a historic break in the trans- mission not only of linguistic and cultural knowledge per se, but also the 328 JOCELYN AHLERS more subtle knowledge related to when and how to share information; this has a particular impact in cases such as this, when a person whose task it is to teach tribal youth feels such a restriction with regard to the sharing of knowledge, without the concomitant understanding of when and where it is appropriate to do so.
Thus, in the same way that menstruation saliently indexes womanhood in tribal culture and plays a key part in deﬁning roles and responsibilities for women in traditional activities, the silence associated with discourse surrounding menstruation indexes feminine discourse within the modern context. This is reinforced by lacunae in documentation and in the current emphasis in language reclamation on the revitalization of larger, relatively public ceremonies and events, which is precisely the place where traditional women’s discourse genres did not occur.
The many roles of language ideologies in situations of language contraction have been explored by a number of authors (e.g. Dorian 1989; Grenoble and Whaley 1998; and Schieﬀelin et al. 1998, among others). Such studies suggest that community-internal language ideologies can interact with ideologies held by external, dominant communities of practice (e.g.
Cavanaugh 2004; McCarty et al. 2006; Meek 2007; Trechter 2001). Even within a single community, language ideologies can be complex, interacting with and reifying broader social structures (e.g. Kroskrity 1998), and the same language ideologies which serve to support and promote language revitalization eﬀorts can also create community-internal conﬂicts which have a negative impact on language use, as in the case of the eventual termination of the White Mountain Apache language maintenance programme due to community-internal conﬂicts (Nevins 2004). This research points out just how crucial an understanding of such ideologies can be within the context of language contraction and revitalization.
Analysis of interviews with young women engaged in the process of entering into adult participation in their tribal communities, and of documentation of the kinds of socializing events described above, provide evidence of two conﬂicting ideologies linked to the association between female gendered identity and silence; these dichotomous ideologies could be labelled, in an oversimpliﬁed fashion, as silence as power and silence as shame. Explicating these two ideologies serves to lay out the ‘human reﬂections’ on the form of silence in use within the contexts, both narrow and broad, described above. This analysis of ‘the total linguistic fact’ (Silverstein 1985:220) sheds light on these conﬂicting ideologies as they coexist in an uneasy tension. It also forms the heart of understanding some of the conﬂicts felt by young women as they attempt to engage with their identities within their multiple communities of practice. These internal conﬂicts and their negotiation by young women in turn oﬀer a window LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 329 into the processes by which individuals engage and grapple with gendered identity and associated ideologies, particularly when those identities are in ﬂux and are being both reclaimed and reinvented by community members as part of broader processes associated with language and social change.
As girls and young women acquire linguistic and social resources to deploy in the performance of their gendered identities, their interpreta- tions of those resources are acquired simultaneously; as they engage in the performance of identity, they must negotiate not only their own multiple understandings of their actions, but also their assumptions regarding the ways in which their audience will interpret their performance. The inherently multicultural nature of most audiences in the public performance of identity for Native Californians means that any given deployment of silence is bivalent. Members of these communities are relying on links to very diﬀerent (or at least to potentially very diﬀerent) texts as they work to understand the deployment of silence as performative of a certain gendered identity. What makes this situation so potentially diﬃcult for girls is that the valencies are so polarized; it is diﬃcult to frame an utterance which is performative of ideal womanhood for the majority of an audience.
On the one hand, there is a strong suggestion that traditional expla- nations for the restrictions surrounding menstruation were linked to the life-giving and cleansing power of menstruation. For example, women do not play central roles in the dancing during the world-renewal ceremony described above. A number of tribal members explained to me that one purpose of this dance is to allow dancers to cleanse themselves by ridding themselves of negative inﬂuences through sweating during the four days of continuous dancing; women, by contrast, are cleansed through menstru- ation on a monthly basis, and therefore are not in need of such ritual oppor- tunities to rid themselves of negativity. Furthermore, the stated reason for women’s restriction from touching sacred objects during the time they are menstruating, and from cooking for ceremonies while menstruating, is because their power might disrupt the power inherent in the sacred objects and in the sacred act of dancing (see Basso 1970 for a similar point about power and ceremonies). These ideologies are understood to be directly linked to past ideologies surrounding menstruation and menstrual taboos.
Such ideologies suggest a respect for women’s menstrual cycles.
There are also hints both within the anthropological record and in the observations described above that, traditionally, the public ceremonies whose central roles were ﬁlled by men were complemented by more private ceremonies and settings where central roles were ﬁlled by women, including post-partum rituals and ceremonies associated with menarche.
Documentation also suggests that some Native California languages had traditionally female-associated gendered vocabulary used for indicating an 330 JOCELYN AHLERS interest in a particular man, while there is no mention of a concomitant lexicon for men to express such an interest in women (Kroeber 1976).
This suggests that the role of initiator in such relationships may have been associated with women in at least some tribal communities. Such an inter- pretation is reinforced by the fact that many of those communities were loosely matrilineal and matrilocal. In some cases, this matrifocus has had an inﬂuence on kinship terminology, such that the word for ‘father’ and ‘mother’s brother’ were the same, pointing to the role that a maternal uncle would take in the absence of a father. These cultural facts, often only hinted at in the documentation for reasons discussed above, suggest cultural praxis which balances male-dominated speech events with female- dominated ones.
On the other hand, there is a strong undercurrent of shame associated with modern practices surrounding menstruation and a powerful framing of those restrictions as limitations. When I ﬁrst met one young man engaged in language and culture revival projects with his tribe, he apologetically explained to me that he was sorry, but his tribe was one of those in which women had to ‘go away’ during certain times every month. His apology was clearly oriented toward my assumed Western stance of gender egali- tarianism which would disapprove of treating menstruation as something to be ashamed of, and of restricting the actions of menstruating women in order to avoid their polluting inﬂuence. Several years later, this same man announced to me that his oldest daughter had ‘become a woman’, a common euphemism for menarche, and that he was upset and sad for her.
He continued by telling me that it was because she would now live the rest of her life with these limitations on her actions; he further compared menstruation to a chronic illness like diabetes that could be lived with, but that had to be a constant negative presence in one’s consideration of one’s actions.
Thus, evidence from the anthropological record, ﬁeld observations and interviews suggest that within a historical, and to some degree modern, tribal context women’s relative public silence was matched by control of other conversational spaces and carried at the very least a neutral valence and in some circumstances a positive, or at least, powerful one. By contrast, in Western culture, silence as associated with women is often assumed to be an index of powerlessness, something imposed rather than chosen. In spite of the academic research problematizing simplistic one-to-one correlations between linguistic behaviour and gender roles, lay understandings of the relationships among language, gender and power reﬂect the experiences documented in studies such as those of Susan Herring (e.g. 1995) and Dale Spender (1980), which suggest that in public spaces, women talk far less than men and that when they do talk, their talk is perceived as taking a LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 331 disproportionate amount of the discourse space relative to the actual length or number of conversational turns. Furthermore, the acquisition of silence concomitant with socialization into attitudes of body shame is associated with girls’ adolescence (Romaine 1999:205) in a number of settings, including educational, which is one location of language social- ization associated with an English-speaking gendered identity for Native girls. Girls and women must therefore negotiate these diﬀerences as they are socialized into both Western and tribal gendered cultural and linguistic practice, and they must decide for themselves how and when to deploy silence and speech in order to meet the expectations associated with their various communities of practice. This deployment is particularly fraught in those many situations where their communities overlap, making multiple interpretations accessible within the same discourse space.
Navigating conﬂict How, then, do young women navigate among these ideologies in their socialization into their gendered identities? Such ideological conﬂict associated with gendered identity is not something faced by their male counterparts, as the gendered language practices into which young men are socialized are not associated with such powerfully bivalent interpreta- tions within the contexts in which they are deployed. Do young women ﬁnd themselves interested in maintaining such practices as they negotiate the multiple socialization processes that they ﬁnd themselves party to? My observations and discussions with some young women suggest that while they are not interested in critiquing the gender roles available to them per se, they are seeking strategies which will allow them to reconcile these ideologies. And it is not only young women. In one interview with a tribal elder in which I asked her about her experiences as a woman participating in both traditional tribal activities and in language revitalization and tribal politics, she said, ‘I have my [Indian] life. And I have my American life.
It’s a thin line.’ The women with whom I have spoken are well aware of these conﬂicting ideologies and the diﬃculties they pose for their social- ization into, and performance of, gendered behaviour and they use various strategies in their attempts to reconcile these ideologies with one another, or to reconcile themselves to these ideologies.
One the one hand, it is possible for girls and young women to focus on involvement in the kinds of community activities which allow and even encourage women to take on speaking roles, or to engage in a negotiation with past practice which privileges other ways of being a ‘good’ community member, resulting in the adoption of more active and vocal roles in traditional events. Young women are often leaders and/or active 332 JOCELYN AHLERS participants in movements to reclaim languages of heritage, a project which not only allows but requires active public participation. Feminine discourse practices in these non-traditional activities do not privilege silence; in fact, active engagement is seen as an index of one’s commitment to tribal values.
In many cases, these roles require women to work with non-community members, including linguists, granting agencies, educators, etc.; these allies in the language documentation and revitalization process have often themselves been socialized in dominant Western linguistic practice, and to some degree can therefore be counted on to interpret public speaking as a positive practice. Participation in the reclamation of female-dominated traditional Native California practices, for example basketweaving, serve the same sort of purpose (although I have not yet had a chance to closely examine discourse practices associated with these activities; this is an important next step in this research).
It is also possible to engage in negotiations to bring women into more central roles in traditional practices that were not dominated by, or often even associated with, women. I spoke with several young women from a tribe that has been working to revive the practice of a gambling game in which two teams attempt to guess at the locations of marked sticks held in an opponent’s hand. Traditionally, men play the game while women stand behind them and sing songs to distract the opposing team. However, a number of young women in this community expressed an interest in learning and playing the game. When they were told by elder family members that it was not traditional for women to play these games and that they could therefore not participate, these young women successfully argued that they should nevertheless be allowed to do so by pointing out that, if they were ever single mothers of sons or had sons with husbands who were not tribal members, they would need to be able to teach their sons to participate in such an important cultural activity. This negotiation, with its privileging of important cultural values having to do with family and continuity of cultural practice, was accepted by elders within the community, and young women were allowed to participate. This attempt to adjust traditional gender roles to allow for their greater participation in the revival of cultural practice suggests that young women are interested in ﬁnding ways to negotiate with tradition in order to make a place for themselves in those older practices which have become part of modern life, especially when female-focused traditions are not revived.
On the other hand, it is also possible to adopt a strategy of acceptance of the status quo which involves an active deployment of silence and role restriction as performative of an authentic feminine identity in the context of traditional activities after reworking their own associated ideologies.
One young women told me that she was angry about the restrictions which LANGUAGE REVITALIZATION AND THE RECONSTITUTING OF GENDER 333 prevented her from touching drums when she is menstruating, until the ideologies which link menstruation with power were presented to her.
Her altered understanding of the cultural interpretation of that restriction changed her attitude toward it. As she put it, ‘it’s hard to be oﬀended when I’m seen as powerful’. On the other hand, the same young woman described to me a situation in which she was standing idle at a gathering after ﬁnishing the tasks generally associated with women at such events, and oﬀered to help some young men from her tribe dismantle a structure which was no longer in use. She told me that she was informed, quite ﬁrmly, that she should not make such an oﬀer to do men’s work, even though she had nothing else to do at the time. As a strong and active young woman, a self-identiﬁed feminist, she said that it was diﬃcult for her to stand by without helping when she had nothing else to do. When I asked her what she thought this meant for her as a member of her tribe, and as a woman in her tribe, she said, ‘This is my culture. I’m not sure if it can be my religion.’ Conclusions This examination of ‘the total linguistic fact’, taking into account as it does the linguistic form of silence, its use by particular social actors within speciﬁc contexts, and the ideologies associated with those uses, sheds light on the ways in which gender roles within Native Californian communities are expressed and understood, particularly as they interact with dominant gender ideologies. At a broader level, this examination of the particular situation of socialization into gender identity and associated linguistic practice within communities which are engaged in the process of reclaiming their endangered languages of heritage sheds light on a system in ﬂux. Native Californian communities, as they work to reclaim their languages and cultural practices, are also reinventing those practices within the context of a surrounding dominant culture. Gender roles are part of that process, and are reclaimed, reworked and understood in light of both traditional and dominant practice and ideologies. Such iterative (re)constituting of gender roles, though, cannot be unique to language endangerment situations, highlighted as the process is in these settings; this analysis, then, points to processes which may be generalizable to gender socialization more broadly.
About the author Jocelyn Ahlers is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Liberal Studies, California State University, San Marcos. 334 JOCELYN AHLERS Notes 1 This paper would not have been possible without the boundless patience of the many members of tribal communities who have shared their thoughts and experiences with me during our work together. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers of this paper for their thoughtful and detailed comments.
2 Leonard’s paper (this volume), written as it is by an insider to this process, addresses this issue in far greater detail.
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