Saving a Language
The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Renee Grounds at a celebration of the closure of International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People in December in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Grounds is a member of the Euchee (also known as Yuchi) community in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Most of her speech was given in the Euchee language, of which there are only six surviving fluent speakers, all over age 75. Now 18 years old, Grounds has been a part of the Euchee Language Project since age nine and is working to become fluent. She wants to increase awareness of indigenous language loss and communicate a sense of urgency to Native communities and individuals about the need for saving languages. Grounds is a freshman at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. She would like to recognize her Euchee elders who have passed on their invaluable knowledge through the Euchee language.
yUdjEha OhahanE Enu yUdjEhaA OdzOTa The Euchee elders, they are teaching me the Euchee language.
dEchUdanE I listen,
n@fig@dEwEje^ I didn’t forget.
yUdjEha gO’wAdenAA gOyUOnda nEchE s@nlA It’s good to know the Euchee language.
gO^ thl@PAe^ yUdjEha gO’wAdenAA OwAdAnE Only about 10 people speak the Euchee language,
yUdjEha gOwAdenAA g@shtaalAdA kEno^ je^ a language spoken on Earth for thousands of years.
yaTE chE s’EhA galA The fire of our languages is burning dim—it’s almost out.
yUdjEha gOwAdenAA s’EhAwElA The Euchee language is about to die out.
abAaga^fa OtOtO Enu yUdjEha gOwAdenAA n@OTanE Nowadays they aren’t teaching their kids the Euchee language. Babies don’t hear their mothers speaking their Native tongue.
gOh@ntOnOnu nE A gOwAdenAA wAOnzOwu^ je^ God gave us this language,
yUdjEha gOwAdenAA so^kAnu! the Euchee language is still here.
yUdjEha akAyu^ya yUdjEhalA’wAdA If you are Euchee, talk Euchee.
n@nOwu^lA no^! We cannot give up.
zEOtOtO k’u^hA yUdjEha gOwAdenAA OdOTa^ OyUOnda dEsha^ When I have kids, I plan to speak to them in Euchee and make them understan
yUdjEha Enu ‘OwAdenA ‘EwAdA s@nlAT@^ It will be a great day when the Euchee people once again speak their own language.
akAe^ dEje^ g@shtaalA That’s the way it was a long time ago.
yUdjEha gOwAdenAA so^kAnu^ The Euchee language is still here.
yUdjEha nAno^ so^ kA nA nu We, the Euchee people, are still here.