January 20, 2008

More on the last Wichita speaker

Last fluent speaker of Wichita tribal language preserves what's leftTerri, the tribe's enrollment clerk, understands. She has watched the number of full-blooded Wichita members--including the Waco, Tawakoni and Keechi bands--fall to just 41 today after once numbering tens of thousands scattered in villages from Central and North Texas to Kansas.

They've tried language classes to teach adults how to say a little, and still hold classes for kids, but the language is too hard and resources too spare to ever resurrect it.

When Doris is gone, the silence will be larger than one woman.

"Any chance of us ever being fluent in it again ... that dies," Terri says.

Then later: "We lose our identity."

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