Native American Languages: Loss And Revitalization
"Approximately half of the world's languages are considered to be endangered, and we may be losing languages as often as one every two or three weeks," says K. David Harrison from the Living Tongues Institute.
"When a community loses its language, they lose their history. They lose their connection to the past. They lose all the wisdom and knowledge that has been accumulated through the centuries about how to live in a sustainable manner on this planet."
Doris McLemore, 83, is the last living fluent speaker of the Wichita language. "I still dream in Wichita sometimes," says McLemore.
But extinction need not be the fate of all small languages. Many Native American communities have instituted language immersion and language revitalization programs.
Cherokee Total Immersion Program, established in Tahlequah, OK, aims to preserve and revive the Cherokee language and to pass it on to the future generations.