Melanie McKay-Cody

Assistant Professor, Department of Disability & Psychoeducational Studies
Tribal Affiliation
Cherokee Nation; Shawnee Tribe; Powhatan; Montauk Tribe

COE Bldg, Room 412

Dr. Melanie McKay-Cody is a Cherokee Deaf and earned her doctoral degree in linguistic and socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. She has studied critically-endangered Indigenous Sign Languages in North America since 1994 and helps different tribes preserve their tribal signs. She also specialized in Indigenous Deaf studies and interpreter training incorporating Native culture, North American Indian Sign Language and ASL. She is also an educator and advocate for Indigenous interpreters and students in educational settings. Besides, North American Indian Sign Language research, she had taught ASL classes in several universities, schools and community for over 42 years. She is one of eight founders of Turtle Island Hand Talk, a new group focused on Indigenous Deaf/Hard of Hearing/DeafBlind and Hearing people.


Ph.D., Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK. May 2019. Concentration: Socio-cultural studies of Indigenous Deaf people and linguistic anthropological studies of Tribal Sign Languages.
M.A., Linguistic Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Concentration: Linguistics of Plains Indian Sign Language and Female Native Signers. Aug. 2014
M.A., Special Education and Rehabilitation, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Concentration: Sign Language Studies. Thesis: Plains Indian Sign Language: A Comparative Study of Alternate and Primary Signers. Dec. 1996.
B.A., American History and Art History/Museum Studies, Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. Concentration: History of American West and Arts History/Museum Studies/Archival Preservation. May 1988.


Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow--2017
NSF award recipient


  • PhD