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Western Tribal Members Working to Preserve Native Language


Aired 4/19/09

Sixteen Western Indian tribes are in San Diego today in an effort to preserve their native language. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.

The tribes were originally part of the Yuman Nation which spanned from Southern California to Baja California. Sixteen dialects were spoken within that nation.    

Today's generation of tribal members wants to revitalize and save those dialects. One way is by holding the Yuman Family Language Summit which offers adults and kids language classes.

Tribal elder Pat Curo is developing the Barona Inter-Tribal Dictionary to help his people save their language. He says its been hard because there's not enough people who speak the language.  

Curo: We do not have enough fluent speakers today to hear how someone else might say something. You know how one work can be one family sort of has a way of saying something. And the other family across the street might say that word just a little bit different. So we have something like that going on.

Curo says all 16 dialects will be included in the dictionary.

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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