Indigenous language
An indigenous language or autochthonous language is a language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 that is native to a region and spoken by indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 but has been reduced to the status of a minority language
Minority language
A minority language is a language spoken by a minority of the population of a territory. Such people are termed linguistic minorities or language minorities.-International politics:...

. This language would be from a linguistically distinct community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

 that has been settled in the area for many generations. Indigenous languages may not be national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

s, or may have fallen out of use, because of language death
Language death
In linguistics, language death is a process that affects speech communities where the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language variety is decreased, eventually resulting in no native and/or fluent speakers of the variety...

s or linguicide caused by colonization, where the original language is replaced by that of the colonists.


Languages are disappearing because there are no longer any people left who speak those languages.

Since 1600 in North America alone, 52 Native American languages have disappeared. Globally, there may be more than 7000 languages that exist in the world today, though many of them have not been recorded because they belong to tribes in rural areas of the world or are not easily accessible. It is estimated that 6,809 "living" languages exist in the world today, but 90 per cent of them are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people. Some languages are even closer to disappearing.
"Forty six languages are known to have just one native speaker while 357 languages have fewer than 50 speakers. Rare languages are more likely to show evidence of decline than more common ones."

Of those languages, this means that roughly 6,100 languages are facing a risk of extinction.

The State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 provides the backdrop for an example of language loss in the developed world. It boasts the highest density of indigenous languages in the United States. This includes languages originally spoken in the region, as well as those of Indian tribes from other areas that were forcibly relocated onto reservations
Indian Removal
Indian removal was a nineteenth century policy of the government of the United States to relocate Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to lands west of the river...

 there. The U.S. government drove the Yuchi
For the Chinese surname 尉迟, see Yuchi.The Yuchi, also spelled Euchee and Uchee, are a Native American Indian tribe who traditionally lived in the eastern Tennessee River valley in Tennessee in the 16th century. During the 17th century, they moved south to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina...

 from Tennessee to Oklahoma in the early 19th century. Until the early 20th century, most Yuchi tribe members spoke the language fluently. Then, government boarding schools severely punished American Indian students who were overheard speaking their own language. To avoid beatings and other punishments, Yuchi, and other Indian children abandoned their native languages in favor of English.
“In 2005, only five elderly members of the Yuchi tribe were fluent in the language. These remaining speakers spoke Yuchi fluently before they went to school and have maintained the language despite strong pressure to abandon it.”

This was not a problem limited to Oklahoma either. In the Northwest Pacific Plateau, there are no speakers left of the indigenous tribal languages from that area, all the way to British Columbia.

“Oregon's Siletz reservation, established in 1855, was home to the endangered language Siletz Dee-ni. The reservation held members of 27 different Indian bands speaking many languages. In order to communicate, people adopted Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon originated as a pidgin trade language of the Pacific Northwest, and spread during the 19th century from the lower Columbia River, first to other areas in modern Oregon and Washington, then British Columbia and as far as Alaska, sometimes taking on characteristics of a creole language...

, a pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

 or hybrid language. Between the use of Chinook Jargon and the increased presence of English, the number of speakers of indigenous languages dwindled.”

Other tribes of Native Americans were also forced into Government schools and reservations. They were also treated badly if they did not become “civilized”. This meant they were to go to Christian churches and speak English. They were forced to give up their tribal religious beliefs and languages. Now, these Native Americans are trying to regain some of their lost heritage. They gather at “Pow-wow
A pow-wow is a gathering of North America's Native people. The word derives from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning "spiritual leader". A modern pow-wow is a specific type of event where both Native American and non-Native American people meet to dance, sing, socialize, and honor American...

” to share culture, stories, remedies, dances, music, rhythms, recipes and heritage with anyone who wants to learn them.

"In January of 2008, in Anchorage, Alaska, friends and relatives gathered to bid their last farewell to 89 year old Marie Smith Jones, a beloved matriarch of her community. “As they bid her farewell to her, they also bid farewell to the Eyak language
Eyak language
Eyak is an extinct Na-Dené language that was historically spoken by the Eyak people, indigenous to southcentral Alaska, near the mouth of the Copper River.The closest relatives of Eyak are the Athabaskan languages...

as Marie was the last fluent speaker of the language. "

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