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American Indian Resources: Languages

This is an introductory guide to resources for Native American Studies. Some, but not all, of these are available through the Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

Language Projects

Preserving and reviving their languages are among the first priorities for many Native groups; Oklahoma's tribal websites bear witness to these efforts.  THIS PAGE IS IN PROCESS.  MANY TRIBES HAVE ONGOING PROJECTS TO PRESERVE THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGES. 

Tulsa City-County Library's American Indian Resource Center (AIRC)has materials on the Euchee and Sauk languages.  In 2011, the AIRC a Humanities in Education Award from the Oklahoma Humanities Council for its contributions to the two tribes' language programs.  See the AIRC web page. There is also an award to the Cherokee Language program, including a video of the Cherokee Youth Choir. 

Independent Lens, PBS

Our Mother Tongues A new PBS website that will feature photos, video, and text about the language, history and culture of several Indian groups. Featured Oklahoma tribal programs:

Euchee Language Project

Sauk (Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma)

The first film in the Mother Tongues series was "We Still Live Here - Âs Nutayuneân Click on this link to view the video and additional resources.

The official websites of Oklahoma's tribes and nations frequently have information about each group's history, as well as efforts to preserve and use its language.




About Languages

There is no one "American Indian" language. Indian languages belong to several different families and larger groups (phyla). Because many groups have been relocated, often more than once, two groups with related languages may live hundreds of miles apart.  Many languages are endangered today because of U.S., state and local assimilationist policies that forbade, and even punished, Native children who spoke their native languages. 

American Indian Resource Center, Tulsa City-County Library  The AIRC has several programs related to language preservation--see the box on Language Projects to the left.

Ethnologue   This website provides  information on resources created by the Summer Institute of Linguistics, including online maps showing the location of Indian (and other) languages in the U.S.  The SIL is a faith-based organization, but it also provides resources that have aided language description, analysis and preservation. Note:  The Institute does not allow its maps and other to be distributed widely  without permission.  The site includes a blog with a map showing where the world's living languages are spoken:  it's called the Ethnoblog.

Native Languages of the Americas   A small non-profit that promotes the preservation of American Indian languages. Has extensive listings of language information, tribal names, etc.

Mango Languages  As of February 2017, this language-learning database includes lessons in Cherokee, as well as about 70 other world languages.