Dozens of Native languages down to limited number of speakers

Map shows the vitality of Native languages spoken in western states. Image from Endangered Languages Project

Of the hundreds of Native languages once spoken in the West, only 63 are still being used today, High Country News reports.

But about half of them are in danger of disappearing because there aren't enough speakers to keep them going. Only three people from the Bridgeport Indian Colony in California still know Paviotso and two of them are in their 90s.

“There are examples of languages that have been extremely endangered or dormant, and that have been revitalized,” linguist Maziar Toosarvandani, who is working with the tribe to develop a dictionary and other materials, told High County News. “It’s possible. But you’ve got to have the documents to do it.”

According to High Country News, the five Native languages in the West with the largest number of speakers are Navajo, Apache, Zuni, Pima and Hopi.

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Most native tongues of the West are all but lost (High Country News 3/2)

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