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Press Release

Release Date: June 16, 2021
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

ADA, Okla. – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced Dr. Jenny L. Davis – a Chickasaw linguist, poet, researcher and professor – as the 2021 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year during the recent Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Virtual Conference.

“Today, we are pleased to recognize Dr. Jenny L. Davis as 2021 Dynamic Chickasaw Woman and celebrate her for her leadership and commitment to preserving our culture,” Governor Anoatubby said. “We recognize Dr. Davis as a dynamic Chickasaw Woman, a leader in our community and a lifelong learner with a passion for language revitalization, ethical research and creative poetry.”

The Dynamic Woman of the Year Award recognizes Chickasaw women dedicated to promoting traditions and culture. The Chickasaw Nation is historically matrilineal, and Chickasaw women have maintained important roles throughout that history.

“Chickasaw women are vibrant, fearless, motivated, hardworking and, in one word, remarkable. We often use the word dynamic which captures all those and many other characteristics to describe Chickasaw women,” Governor Anoatubby said.

As an official award, the Dynamic Woman of the Year began in 2006. Dr. Davis is the 16th dynamic Chickasaw woman to be honored with the title.

2021 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Dr. Jenny L. Davis

“Chokma’shki and Yakoke to Governor Anoatubby and the Chickasaw Nation for this truly humbling award,” Dr. Davis said. “It’s an honor to receive such recognition from the tribe and to be included alongside the incredible Chickasaw women who have received it before me.”

Dr. Davis is an associate professor of anthropology and American Indian studies at the University of Illinois and the director of the American Indian Studies program.

After earning undergraduate degrees from Oklahoma State University, she obtained a Master of Arts and doctorate in linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She was a Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University, and a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in linguistics at the University of Kentucky.

Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language revitalization, Indigenous gender and sexuality, as well as collaborative methods, ethics and repatriation in Indigenous research.

“Over the past 20 years, the Chickasaw Nation has nurtured and supported me in so many ways in my career and in my education,” Dr. Davis explained. “And the department of language and our Chickasaw speakers and language learners in particular continue to be an incredible inspiration for me.”

She said she has benefited and learned from many amazing women in her life.

“I have always loved how strongly the Chickasaw Nation celebrated our matriarchal culture and the centrality of Chickasaw women past, present and future to our culture, families and governance,” Dr. Davis said.

She voiced appreciation for the love and support her family granted her over the years, including grandparents Billy and Barbara Walker, and Wendell and Hellen Davis; parents Clint Davis and Windy Walker; brother Ben and sister Tiffany; as well as her partner Laura and extended family.

“They have always shown me the importance of hard work, responsibility for yourself and others, and the importance of laughter,” she said.

She drew special attention to her maternal grandfather.

“There are many people who are so important to me that are no longer here, perhaps no one more than my maternal grandfather Billy Walker, who was fiercely proud of being Chickasaw. He used to load us up into his pickup to drive us down to show us the family allotment out near Stonewall, where he went to school in Roff and where our family has been buried since arriving in Oklahoma there in Ada,” Dr. Davis remembered.

Her research has been published in the “Annual Review of Anthropology,” “American Anthropologist,” “Gender & Language,” “Language & Communication,” and the “Review of International American Studies,” among others.

Dr. Davis’ books have received two noteworthy prizes. Her book “Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance” received the 2019 Beatrice Medicine Award from the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures. Her co-edited volume “Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality” received the 2014 Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.

Her poetry manuscript, “Trickster Academy,” is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press Sun Tracks Series. Other creative works by Dr. Davis were most recently published in several media sites and exhibitions in Michigan and Minnesota.

About the award

The Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Award was established in October 2006 to honor Chickasaw women who have made significant contributions to the Chickasaw Nation and its citizens.

Women ages 35 and older with Chickasaw citizenship are eligible. Chickasaw Nation employees and elected officials are not eligible.

Visit to view the virtual conference. Nominations for future Dynamic Chickasaw Women can be submitted by visiting or by contacting creative arts at or (580) 272-5520.