"It’s just a joy to work with our fluent elders every day and to pass the language on to our children, breath to breath, while we still have the first-language speakers with us."

Renée Grounds Instructor at the Euchee Language Project

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Euchee (also spelled Yuchi) LANGUAGE PROJECT

Sapulpa Oklahoma

imgWhile only five elders speak Euchee as a first language, two dozen second-language learners are working hard to become fluent speakers. At the Euchee Language Project in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, fluent elders work daily with apprentices to pass on their language. These apprentices in turn serve as teachers for a preschool language immersion daycare center, and for after-school children’s classes at the Euchee House, which provides a safe haven for bringing together Euchee families. The project also hosts annual language and culture camps, bringing together the young and the old for fun and for ceremonial occasions and dances.

The Euchee are originally from the southeastern United States. Early English and Spanish documents record encounters with the Euchee in Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. From 1821 through the 1850s, a series of government removals forced the Euchee from their homelands into Oklahoma’s Indian Territory. Despite extensive evidence of Euchee tribal history, cultural patrimony, and vivacity through the present day, the U.S. government still does not recognize the Euchee as a contemporary tribe. However, the Euchee continue to maintain their identity and choose to refer to themselves as zOyaha meaning "People of the Sun."

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Did You Know ...

Like more than 20 other Native American languages, the Euchee language is an isolate and is not related to any other language in the world.

The Euchee language is different for men and women. There are only five living first speakers of the Euchee language, and all are over 80. K’asA Henry Washburn is the only first-language speaker of his father tongue.

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