The Oklahoma Language Hotspot is one of two such areas found in the United States. As a result of the specific history of Oklahoma in its role as Indian Territory, numerous indigenous groups were moved eastward or westward to add to the already diverse set of local languages in the 19th century. As a result, a number of different languages representing numerous language families became languages of Oklahoma.

Some portion of these have survived to the modern day, but all languages of Oklahoma are endangered to one degree or another; most in fact have but a handful of elders remaining who are conversant in their heritage tongues. The current distribution of the languages and language families still found in Oklahoma today can be seen in this map of the Oklahoma Language Hotspot.

Oklahoma_Language_Hotspot_map (PDF)


Sauk Language

Oklahoma is also a center of indigenous language revitalization movements and many tribes are acting to reclaiming their languages through various kinds of programs, school curricula, etc.

One community in Oklahoma that is actively engaging in language revitalization are the Sac and Fox Nation, whose language is called Sauk. Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages offered equipment and training to a representative from the Sauk Language Department, Ms. Terrie Kinsey in 2010, and she produced a wonderful digital storybook in the Sauk language at this workshop.

“Nîshwi Meshihkêwaki — Two Turtles” (Sauk language)
A digital story by Terrie Kinsey

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