A vast array of cultural traditions and languages can be found among China's 55 legally recognized minority nationalities. Mother tongue education has been the norm for several of the large minority groups (namely, Koreans, Kazaks, Mongolians, Tibetans, and Uyghurs) for most of the time since 1949. This article, which is based on empirical data, reports a study of a group of academics with a Uyghur background at Xinjiang University. The findings indicate that language issues have had a great impact on the professional and personal identities of these academics. The language of their formal school education, either Chinese, the official language, or their mother tongue, has not only had an effect on their perceptions of language learning, but has also created ethnic and cultural divisions among people of the same origins. The authors explore the implications of these identity, language and culture dilemmas for minority academics in China.