It’s time to give thanks.
What for, exactly?
This Thanksgiving, give thanks for the 130 endangered native languages in the USA, and the people keeping them alive.
Give thanks for Marie Wilcox.
Born on Thanksgiving Day 1933, Marie is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, in California. At 81, she started making a dictionary to pass her language on, and now, with her daughter, she is teaching her language to others. Watch the Oneness Project’s short film to see her in action.
Give thanks for Juanita Pahdopony.
Juanita translated this poem from Comache, a language of the Southern Plains (especially Oklahoma and Texas). Ten years ago, when it was published on Words Without Borders issue on the native languages of the Americas, there were less than 100 fluent Comanche speakers left.
A long time ago
of the people
Today, few speak
its loss-a bitter lesson.
That is all.
Give thanks for the NGO Native Languages of the Americas.
On their website you can learn simple words in Comanche, Yokuts (Marie Wilcox’s language family) and many more languages, find out about the linguistics, legends, literature and culture, or get answers to specific questions on their blog. It is a fantastic resource: Thank them by donating a bit of your time or money to support their work. Or simply by going and having a look, letting the words roll round your tongue and absorbing the stories when you’re too full to do anything else.
Thank you Marie, Juanita and the NLA. We need more people like you.