My research interests revolve around the vitality of the Indigenous languages of North America, where I primarily focus on language acquisition, documentation and description, and revitalization.
Due to the legacy of colonialism, nearly all such languages are rapidly losing mother-tongue speakers, and very few are still acquired as a first language by children in a traditional manner. Furthermore, many Indigenous communities require better linguistic resources to help support child language development (in areas such as speech language pathology) and pass their languages on to new generations of speakers—through efforts such as immersion, master/mentor-apprentice, and adult language education programs. Many Indigenous languages of North America are also well known for having particular linguistic characteristics, yet the acquisition of such characteristics is critically under-studied and may present special challenges for first and second language acquisition.
My research program is dedicated to understanding how speakers use these languages, how young children and learners acquire them, and how best to use this knowledge to inform science and community-grounded language efforts.
Much of my work has centered on East Cree, an Algonquian language spoken in Eeyou Istchee territory in Northern Québec, Canada. For example, my dissertation focuses on the first language acquisition of nominal inflection in Northern East Cree by three children between the ages of two and six. I am also an active member of the research team at the Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study (CCLAS), led by Dr. Julie Brittain at Memorial University.