Skip to main content

Richard A. Grounds, Ph.D., is an enrolled member of the Mvskoke Nation of Oklahoma of Yuchi and Seminole heritage. He is the Executive Director of the Yuchi Language Project based in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, working with Yuchi Elders in creating new fluent speakers using immersion language methods. Under his leadership the Yuchi Language Project was recognized as the Outstanding Host for 2017 by the Tula Global Alliance for working with numerous international visitors over the years sponsored by the U.S. State Department, including Uighurs, Taiwanese, Mongolians, Brazilians, Indonesians, among numerous others. After completing his Ph.D. in the History of Religions at Princeton Theological Seminary, he taught at St. Olaf College and in the Anthropology Department at the University of Tulsa.

Dr. Grounds has presented on Indigenous language issues at Stanford, Harvard, Haskell Indian Nations University, University of Arizona, Texas Christian University, University of San Carlos, Guatemala, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Florida, among many other colleges. He has promoted Indigenous language issues for many years, presenting at the American Academy of Religion in Toronto in 2002, sponsoring a resolution passed by the World Council of Churches in 2005 to support Indigenous language rights, and calling for an International Year of Indigenous Languages while he was a member of the WCC Central Committee, serving as an invited presenter for the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2008, presenting a keynote for the U.S. Department of Education NAM Directors in Washington, D.C. (2012), and co-chairing a panel on the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages at the Palais des Nations in Geneva for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He is currently the chair of the Global Indigenous Languages Caucus and served as the Expert for the North American Region at the Expert Meeting on Indigenous Languages held by the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2016. He served as convener for the University of Pennsylvania conference, "Native American Languages in Crisis: Academia, Technology and Smaller Language Communities," as a consultant for the Smithsonian's "Recovering Voices" Initiative, and as co-planner for the "National Native Language Revitalization Summit" in Washington, D.C. Dr. Grounds was the consistent voice calling for an International Year of Indigenous Languages since the beginning of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2002 which was declared by the UN General Assembly for 2019. He presented at the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages International Conference, in Yakutsk, Russia in far east Siberia, and participated in the 2020 planning meeting for the upcoming UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages in Mexico City.