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Chukchansi dialect

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chukchansi (Chuk'chansi) is a dialect of Foothill and Valley Yokuts spoken in and around the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, in the San Joaquin Valley of California, by the Chukchansi band of Yokuts. As of 2011, there were eight native speakers.[1]

Preservation efforts

In May 2012, the Linguistics Department of Fresno State University received a $1 million grant to compile a Chuckchansi dictionary and grammar texts,[2] and to "provide support for scholarships, programs, and efforts to assemble native texts and create a curriculum for teaching the language so it can be brought back into social and ritual use."[3] The five-year grant was provided by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians from funds generated by the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, and is expected to speed existing volunteer efforts by CSU Fresno faculty to document and teach the language.[4][5] However, the grant has also been criticized in connection with recent disenrollments of Chuckchansi tribal members.[6][7][8][9]

Recordings of the language were made by Sydney Lamb between 1953-1957.[10] Efforts at documentation of Chukchansi have also been attempted using the Phraselator, a handheld recording device developed for military purposes. "When a person speaks into the device in English, it responds with the Chukchansi translation." However, as of 2007, these devices were too expensive to be widely distributed.[11][12]

Chukchansi classes have been taught at the elementary school in Coarsegold, CA since 2008.[13] As of 2012, Chukchansi classes are available for children and adults.[14] The Native American Coffee Company's first coffee shop, which opened in Coarsegold in 2012, plans to translate the names of its coffee drinks into Chukchansi.

Preservation of the language has evoked strong feelings. Tribal Chairman Reggie Lewis emphasized the need to "preserve, protect, and revitalize our cultural identity and traditions."[15][16] One tribal member, who put it more directly, said, "When [the United States] began the genocide of Native American communities, the reason they allowed us to sign our treaties was because we had a language ... Generations of our elders went through drought and atrocities; the core of our language is our identity," adding that she was encouraged by the fact that "non-native speakers in the community come to learn the language."[4]


The following tables are based on Collord's 1968 grammar.[17]


Bilabial Dental/
Velar Glottal
central lateral
Nasal plain m n
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
Affricate voiceless ts
aspirated tsʰ
ejective tsʼ
Fricative s ʃ x h
Approximant plain l j w
rhotic (ɻ)

/ɻ/ sound is borrowed from other languages. /l/ is generally high-tongued /l̪/ after front vowels, and is slightly lowered elsewhere.


Front Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː o oː
Open a aː


  1. ^ a b Carmen George (2011-09-29). "Chukchansi issues disenrollment letters". Sierra Star. Oakhurst CA. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  2. ^ "Chukchansi language to be preserved with grant". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  3. ^ "Fresno State Receives $1 Million to Preserve, Revitalize Chukchansi Language". Foundation Center Philanthropy News Digest. 2012-05-13. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  4. ^ a b "Native American Tribe Races to Preserve Endangered Language". New America Media - Indigenous. 2012-07-18. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  5. ^ "Chukchansi Pledges $1 Million for Language Study & Revitalization". KSEE 24 News. 2012-05-07. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  6. ^ "Saving the language?". Sierra Star. Oakhurst CA. 2012-05-17. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  7. ^ James Dao (2011-12-12). "California Indian Tribes Eject Thousands of Members". Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  8. ^ Randye Payne (2011-10-27). "Picayune Rancheria tribal disenrollments 'disheartening'". Sierra Star. Oakhurst CA. Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  9. ^ Marc Benjamin (2012-07-07). "Chukchansi family files suit against U.S." Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  10. ^ "Chukchansi Yokuts audio recordings (1953-1957)". California Language Archive. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  11. ^ Charles McCarthy (2007-10-14). "Learning an almost lost language; The few Mono Indians remaining who speak their tongue are passing it down to children to preserve culture". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  12. ^ "Tribal Linguistic History using Digital Tools". Family Oral History Using Digital Tools. Archived from the original on 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  13. ^ Carmen George (2011-09-01). "Saving a Language". Sierra Star. Oakhurst CA. Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  14. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (17 June 2012). "With Casino Revenues, Tribes Push to Preserve Languages, and Cultures". The New York Times. p. 14.
  15. ^ "Tribe Donates $1 Million to Preserve Chukchansi Language". Indian Country Today Media Network. 2012-05-10. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  16. ^ "Chukchansi Nature Trail". Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  17. ^ Collord, Thomas (1968). Yokuts Grammar: Chukchansi (PhD). UC Berkeley.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 12 October 2020, at 04:15
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