November 26, 2007

The last Wichita speaker

Tribal language fading away

Doris Jean Lamar is the last fluent speaker of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.Oklahoma had been a state for only two decades when Doris Jean Lamar was born in 1927. Her first spoken words were not English, but an American Indian language taught to her by grandparents.

Today, Lamar is the last fluent speaker in the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, a tribe of 2,300. Sitting in a tribal canteen that she supervises, the 80-year-old Lamar carries a language that once was spoken by thousands, then hundreds of Wichita language speakers.

"I never thought I would be in this position as a girl, to be our last fluent speaker," she said.

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