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Native Languages of the Americas: Wiyot (Weott, Sulateluk)

Language: Wiyot is an Algic language once spoken in Northern California. Sadly, its last native speaker died in 1962, but some members of the Wiyot tribe are trying to revive the language from audio recordings for cultural purposes. Wiyot is related to Yurok but not to the other languages of Northern California--known to linguists as the Ritwan languages, Wiyot and Yurok are actually distant relatives of Algonquian languages like Ojibway and Cree. Like the Algonquian languages, Wiyot is an agglutinative language with complex verbs and fairly free word order.

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People: The Wiyot people traditionally lived on the far northwest coast of California, along the shores of Humboldt Bay. Unlike most native peoples of the west coast, the Wiyot were Algonquian speakers. There are about 500 Wiyot Indians on four rancherias in Northern California today; in some places, they have merged with their neighbors the Yurok.

History: Always a small tribe, the Wiyot Indians were known as friendly and hospitable people and got along well with white settlers until gold was discovered in California. Like most Native Americans in the region, the Wiyot tribe was trampled underfoot in the Gold Rush and its aftermath. The Wiyots suffered a worse fate than most, though. In 1860, a local man named Hank Larrabee--called a "thug" even by the other rowdy white miners in the area--stormed Indian Island with a few followers while the Wiyot women and children were preparing sacred ceremonies there and killed almost all of them. The survivors of this massacre have mostly merged together with their allies the Yurok. The descendants of the Wiyot nation are currently trying to buy Indian Island back from its white owners. If you'd like to help them, you can click here.

Wiyot Language Resources
Wiyot language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Wiyot Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Wiyot tribe past and present.

Wiyot Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Wiyot Indians, their language and culture.

Wiyot Legends
Introduction to Wiyot Indian mythology.

Wiyot Language Resources

Our Online Wiyot Language Materials

Wiyot Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in the Wiyot language, with comparison to words in Algonquian languages.
Wiyot Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Wiyot words.
Wiyot Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Wiyot language.
Wiyot Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Wiyot language.

Wiyot Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
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Wiyot Handbook I * Wiyot Handbook II * Wiyot Handbook Order Information:
    Karl Teeter's description of the Wiyot language.
Flutes of Fire:
    Interesting collection of essays about Wiyot and other California Indian languages.
Native American Language Dictionaries:
    Wiyot and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.
Wiyot and Yurok Bibliography:
    Thorough bibliography of materials on the Yurok and Wiyot languages.

Wiyot Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Wiyot Language Revival:
    Drafts of Wiyot language learning materials from linguist Lisa Conathan (PDF format).
Wiyot Language:
    Wiyot phonology and orthography information, and an excerpt from a Wiyot story.
Wiyot (Wishosk):
    Wikipedia article overviewing the Wiyot language.
*Survey of California Indian Languages: Wiyot:
    Profile of the Wiyot language from the University of California at Berkeley.
Wiyot Language Tree:
    Theories about Wiyot's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
*West Coast Algonquian Vocabulary:
    Early 20th-century wordlists of Yurok and Wiyot.

Wiyot Language Preservation and Usage

    Demographic information about the Wiyot language from the Ethnologue of Languages.
Pacific Northwest Language Domains:
    Language map of Wiyot and other Northwest Coast languages of Washington, Oregon and California.

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  La Lengua Wiyot:
  Article on the Wiyot language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Wiyot Language:
Wiyot links.
  Wiyot Tribe:
  Wiyot Indian books.

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