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Wiyot Placename Video
Unfortunately, this website does not support video (awerr! "oh dear!"). However, I have posted a short Wiyot language video at the Wiyot Tribe's Facebook page, so please visit us there to check it out. (Log into Facebook, then search for "Wiyot Tribe".)
The video is the product of a fellowship from the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. In it, you will learn the native Wiyot names for several prominent sites in Wiyot territory, such as Humboldt Bay, Eel River, Eureka, etc. Wherever possible, I have included audio of native Wiyot speakers saying these names, and I discuss the meanings and the history behind each place name.
If you are a Wiyot tribal member and would like a free DVD copy of the placename video, please contact me and I will be happy to send you one.
Hashgou! SHADASH HOUSHIDESHWU'R
(All right! 'Condor's picture' = Condor Cam)
(Condor Cam screengrab from http://www.ventanaws.org/condor_cam/condor_cam_pics.htm)
The Condor Cam is down in Big Sur, but Shadash (Condor) was an important character in Wiyot stories: Shadash and his sister were the only people spared when Gourriqhdat Gaqilh (Above-Old-Man) sent a flood to wipe out the first (not-so-good) people and start the world anew.
This is a live webcam of a California condor re-introduction project. WARNING: may include graphic footage of condors feeding.
Free Wiyot language materials for Tribal members
I have a number of language-related mini-"publications" available for Wiyot tribal members who would like to know more about the language. These are language materials which I have cleaned up and converted to standard Wiyot spellings from their original (often handwritten) format. Please contact me for a free copy of any of the following:
- An 1889 Wiyot vocabulary recorded by Jeremiah Curtis (booklet with index)
- A 1924 Wiyot vocabulary recorded by Edward S. Curtis (short booklet, no index)
- Selected Wiyot stories in English and Wiyot (as recorded by A.L. Kroeber, Gladys Reichard, Karl Teeter & others)
- Transcripts of Wiyot audio recordings (the audio itself is available through the UC Berkeley website at http://cla.berkeley.edu/item/10148?tab=digital; I have transcripts of over 30 word lists & am working to transcribe the remaining lists)
2014 Wiyot Calendars are here!
The theme of this calendar is "Wiyot lands": each month features a photo of a prominent place in traditional Wiyot territory, along with its Wiyot name. Months and days of the week, along with a few holidays, are also in Wiyot.
Calendars will be provided free to Wiyot elders near the end of the year. For non-elders and the general public, calendars are $15 each, and funds are used to recoup our printing costs; if there is any profit, it will be used to create a 2015 calendar.
Calendars are available for sale at the Wiyot Tribal office and at:
- American Indian Art & Gift Shop (Old Town, Eureka)
- Clarke Museum (Old Town, Eureka)
- Booklegger (Old Town, Eureka)
- Eureka Books (Old Town, Eureka)
- Humboldt County Historical Society (Eureka)
- North Coast Co-op (Eureka)
- Tin Can Mailman bookstore (Arcata)
Below is a page-by-page guide to the Wiyot words and phrases found in the 2014 calendar (click on orange text to hear audio):
Goutseyouwilh Valhuk: one year ('salmon come around once')
Baduwa't: Mad River
Goutgudaluqh: January ('one month')
Goushipguluvughurruk: New Year's Day ('year starts again')
Goudi'ni: Arcata ('over in the woods')
Rridutgudaluqh February ('two months')
Wigi: Humboldt Bay
Rrikutgudaluqh: March ('three months')
Gawu gutgadughurruk: first day of spring ('spring begins')
Yagaboukva'r: April ('the one that is never counted')
Jaroujiji: Eureka ('where you sit down and rest')
We'sagh Hulutgudaluqh: May ('five months')
Tuluwat: Indian Island
Duklhulouk Hulutgudaluqh: June ('six months')
Bik hanuguluvughurruk: first day of summer ('halfway season')
Hikshari': Elk River
Ha'luw Hulutgudaluqh: July ('seven months')
Goutsuwelhik: Bucksport ('put the boat right in')
Hiwiduw Hulutgudaluqh: August ('eight months')
Giloulh: Table Bluff
Vushurouk Hulutgudaluqh: September ('nine months')
Lhawu'n: First day of fall ('fall')
Rrulouk Hulutgudaluqh: October ('ten months')
Gouwil Goutsuwe'n: CA Indian Day ('Indian one sky = day')
Vutsuwitk Da'l: Fortuna ('where the ashes stay')
Vegoutsutgudaluqh: November ('eleven months')
Wiya't: Eel River
Verridutgudaluqh: December ('twelve months')
Bawu'n: First day of winter ('rain = winter')
Bi'murr: the South Spit
Days of the week
- Dagoushipga'w: Monday ('one starts to work again')
- Darrit vewi'gurr: Tuesday ('second day of work')
- Darrik vewi'gurr: Wednesday ('third day of work')
- Darra' vewi'gurr: Thursday ('fourth day of work')
- We'sagh dahulu vewi'gurr: Friday ('fifth day of work')
- Dagaseghurr: Saturday ('work a half day')
- Daga'gawi': Sunday ('no work')
If you have any questions about calendars, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hou'! (Thank you.)
Historical & Linguistic Background of Wiyot
The Wiyot language (called Soulátluk' — literally ‘your jaw’ — by some speakers) was the native language of the Wiyot people until the death of Della Prince, the last fluent Wiyot speaker to collaborate with linguists, in 1962. Wiyot is linguistically interesting for several reasons. First, along with Yurok, it is one of only two Algic (also called Algonguian) languages in the Pacific Northwest. Other Algic languages are found in Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the northern Atlantic coast, and include languages like Chippewa, Cree, Cheyenne and Arapaho. (see map below)
Another interesting characteristic of Wiyot is that it is a polysynthetic language, which means that complex ideas — sometimes the equivalent of an entire English sentence — can be expressed using a single verb with multiple prefixes and suffixes. Here are a couple of examples:
gi dutigulis wiw ilh
finish bathe self he/she
'S/he finishes bathing himself/herself.'
da gudugunu gulh u’n
for a while very hurt its
'There is a lot of hurting.'
There are no remaining fluent speakers of Wiyot (no one alive today grew up speaking Wiyot as their first language). However, there is a great deal of documentation of the Wiyot language that was compiled when the language was still spoken natively. These materials include written word lists, texts, and grammatical descriptions dating from the late 1800’s to the 1960’s, as well as audio recordings of songs, words and phrases, and narrative texts from the 1950’s-1960’s. Here is a sample of what some of the written materials look like:
1. J. Curtin (1889):
2. G. Reichard (1925):
3. G. Reichard (1922):
4. Teeter & Nicholls (1993):
Because these documents were created by many different researchers, each of whom had a different system for writing the language, and contain information given by Wiyot speakers from different dialects and time periods, it is a challenge to form a complete picture of the language.
(To fully understand this, imagine that the last English speaker had died several decades ago. Then imagine that the only information we had today about the English language was a dozen or so texts and word lists collected by, say, Swahili-speaking researchers who did not know anything about English spelling. THEN imagine that the English speakers who provided the researchers with their information lived between about 1885 and 1960, and some of them were from Minnesota while others were from South Carolina or New York!
'Language revitalization' refers to efforts to bring endangered languages (languages with very few native speakers) back into broader use in a community by teaching the language to non-fluent or semi-fluent speakers. But can a language with no fluent speakers be brought back into use? It may be more difficult, but Wiyot would not be the first community to try it: revitalization of ‘extinct’ or ‘dormant’ languages (also called ‘language revival’) is underway in the Miami (Oklahoma — also an Algic language) and Mutsun California tribes; and modern Hebrew was revived from religious and traditional texts after centuries during which it was used only ceremonially.
- Children’s language classes
- Adult language classes
- Language committee
- Multimedia dictionary creation
- Language articles in the Wiyot newsletter
Plans for the near future
- Online language-learning resources
- Digital texts with audio and word-level translation
- Creation of a digital database containing ALL known Wiyot words, phrases and texts from manuscript, print, and audio sources
- Publication of a comprehensive Wiyot-English/English-Wiyot dictionary
- Training of language teachers within the Wiyot Tribe