Terminology re the Uto-Aztecan language family
The term "Uto-Aztecan"
was coined (since the family covers languages spoken from the land of the Utes which inhabited much of the territory in Colorado,
and parts of Utah and northern New Mexico to that of the Aztecs in Mexico.) by Daniel Brinton in 1891, but the term was not
widely adopted for the whole family until Edward Sapir published his general classification of American Indian languages in
The Uto-Aztecan family is now considered to have two main branches, Northern and Southern.
Early classifications of this group of languages used the term "Shoshonean" to refer to what is now called Northern
Uto-Aztecan. This group has four main branches:
Southern California Shoshonean
Kern River Shoshonean
(Northern Uto-Aztecan — or Shoshonean — also includes Giamina, a very poorly documented
language of the California Central Valley.)
The name Shoshonean has not been used by linguists,
then, for more than 60 years. It was abandoned in part because it is misleading — "Shoshonean", sometimes
shortened to "Shoshone", can easily be confused with "Shoshoni" (sometimes written "Shoshone"),
the name of a single language of the Numic branch. Unfortunately, though, many non-specialists (and textbooks, etc.) have
not kept up with this change in terminology.
"When we lose languages we're losing knowledge," estimates show that of the more than 100
languages indigenous to what is now California, only half still have living speakers. "We're losing not just a set
of words, its grammar, we're losing whole philosophical systems, oral-literature systems, ceremonial systems, and social
systems along with the language. So language is one of an array of cultural phenomena that are going away."
The wider impacts of such losses are secondary to the toll on indigenous and the inspiration of the people whose ancestors
were once fluent in Pipiimar/Tongva, Kitanemuk, Chumash, and scores of languages and dialects that today have only a few,
if any, remaining speakers.
"The important thing about language survival is that people see it as a part
of their human rights. And it is. People have the right to retain their language, and have a right to retain their culture
if that's what they want to do."
This Timeline is a living document
(if you have knowledge to help us fill in the Gaps, we would very much appreciate your help. We wish to acknowledge everyone
who has helped us reclaim our language)
We have been speaking
our ancestral language since time immemorial
1771 –The Decline of our language begins- Mission San Gabriel
at Isankanga and begins the process of “conversion”. Conflict with local Tongva
the church to move to present location at the village of Sibanga (1775-1776).
Pipiimar (Tongva- more likely a village
name near S.G) name changed to “Gabrieliño/Gabrieleño”
and missionization process begins.
Non converts integrate into social economic life,
but not religious life.
1838-1842- Horatio Hale
–Ethnology & Philology by Philologist of the Expedition
United States Exploring Expedition - Under the command
of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N.
(Collect a small word list)
1856- Alexander Taylor- The Indianology
of California by; Vol. XIII No. 12, May 11th 1860/ No. 9 Indians of the Mission of San Gabriel, etc.
of the Indians living near the Mission of San Gabriel, in Los Angeles county, taken by the Author, in November, 1856.
The vocabulary of San Gabriel was taken from an old Christian-Indian about sixty years old, and his appearance and features
similar to our other Indians. He says, San Gabriel was the first built by Padre Miguel Cruzado, and he was born near
The Indians of San Fernando spoke nearly the same language as those of San Gabriel. The
site of San Fernando was a rancheria called Pasheckna, and was more populous than any other rancheria of the Fernandinos.
Other clans were Okowvin-jha, Kowanga, and Saway Yanga. The Ahapchingas were clan or rancheria between Los Angeles and San
Juan Capistrano, and enemies of the Gabrielenos, or those of San Gabriel.
1884- H.W. Henshaw (Family:
Shoshonean / Language: San Gabriel Mission/Place of Record: Near Banning, Calif./ Date of Record Dec.24, 1884) Vocabulary
taken from a very old and decrepit Indian now living in an Indian Rancheria near the town of Banning. He formerly lived at
the San Gabriel Mission. His wife and children speak Serrano (“Mountaineer”) language. His granddaughter, a school
girl, understands English and she acted as interpreter. (Collect a small word list)
1875- Dr. Oscar Loew –
Vocabulary of the Tobikhar Indians of San Gabriel (was recorded by Dr. Loew in June,1875 and published in Gatschet (1879:401-475)
Orthography by George Gibbs. (Collected approx. 200 words)
When Dr. O. Loew visited the country around San Gabriel Mission
in June, 1875, he was told that only two old men able to speak their paternal language were living, the rest of the Indians
having exchanged their vernacular for Spanish. He visited them both, and from one of them, Fernando Quinto, a nonagenarian
chief, who seem to be near his dissolution, he obtained vocabulary with additions. This old man remembered having seen
one of Colonel J.C. Frémont’s expeditions.
1900’s- Who was the Last fluent speaker ???
1903- C. Hart
Merriam – Indian Vocabularies by C.Hart Merriam
(Name of the tribe: Tong-va / Home of the tribe: San Gabriel Valley, Calif. Vocabulary Obtained from: Mrs. J.V. Rosemyre
at (place): Bakersfield, Calif./ Date: Oct. 1903)
1901- J.W. Hudson – interviewed Mrs.
James Rosemyre, a Gabrielino consultant living in Tejón.
1907-1909- Alfred L. Krober – worked
with two Gabrielino consultants
– J.P.Harrington- worked with 11 Gabrielino
John Peabody Harrington (1884–1961),hired in 1915 by the Bureau of American Ethnography as a research
ethnologist,devoted over 50 years to field work on Native American languages. The men and women he interviewed were often
among the last remaining speakers of their languages.
1900’s- Who was the
Last fluent speaker ???
did Liguistics begin? Historical timeline)
to present –Pam Munro – “Our Mentor”-
Professor, Linguistics, UCLA. Working with the Gabrielino Language off and on for over 30years ? Study & interpreting
our Language. Creating a real Dictionary and 19 gammar lessons.
1998??-L. Frank &
Leanne Hinton start
“Breath of Life” ???
19??- Mark Acuña
– tries to start a language study group (last
Who attends ?
19?? Others who worked on
the notes ??
include Geraldine Anderson, William Bright, and Kenneth Hill, but none of them had any extended contact with Tongva
people to Pam Munro's knowledge. However, she learned from their previous work.
2000???- J. P. Harrington
Database Project-Martha J. Macri UC Davis, Principal Investigator
Victor Golla Humboldt
State University, Lisa Woodward, Pechanga Cultural Center, Co-Principal Investigators
The J. P.
Harrington Database Project,
administered through the Native American
Language Center at the University of
Davis, received initial funding
from the National Science Foundation in
August of 2001 (BCS01-11487). The database
will provide a continuous text of the notes in
an easily readable form, and will be used to
generate lists of
words and phrases. It can be
searched for specific words, or by
categories, such as plants, animals, personal
names, place names, and cultural items.
goal of the J. P. Harrington Project is to increase access to the linguistic and ethnographic notes on American Indian languages
collected by J. P. Harrington during the first half of the twentieth century. The men and women he interviewed were often
among the last remaining speakers of their languages. His notes are a treasure of indigenous knowledge that otherwise would
have been lost. Well over half of an estimated 500,000 pages are on California Indian languages. It is with these materials
that we have begun.
The project is funded by National Science Foundation grants BCS01-11487, BCS04-18584,
and BCS06-42463, the Native American Language Center, and the Office of Research at the University of California, Davis.
2004 – Language Committee Created we met at "Breath of Life"- Pam Munro-becomes our Mentor, Sutimiv-Pa'alat/Jacob Gutierrez as host &
facilitator, and Virginia Carmelo. We meet L. Frank our motivator. Grammar Lessons Begin. First year Sutimiv begins to record
Pam's Dictionary onto DVD's, CD's, copies dictionary and mails out Dictionary to the Nation, begins a Map of Tongva Villages.
2005 - Language Committee Sutimiv records Pam Munro, the entire dictionary. Pam receives Heritage Award for her contribution-revitalization
of our Tongva Language.
2006- JPHarrington Training session in San Pedro at Sutimiv's home. In January, Lisa Woodward and Martha Macri offered a one-day of
training. Participants included students in the Tongva (Gabrielino) language group, as well as members of the Chumash, and
Acjachemen (Juaneño) communities. Also attending was Pam Munro, a linguist from UCLA, who works with the Tongva class.
photo by Robert Dorame
2006 - Language Committee- goes to "Breath of Life"-attending Mentor Pam Munro, Sutimiv,
Carol Ramirez. Grammar Lessons (Lessons#??-#??) Sutimiv begins coding the "Gabrieliño" JPHarrington notes
in August, starts making flash cards, updates Map.
2007 - Language Committee Updated Dictionary done in December by Pam Munro. Grammar Lessons
continue (Lessons#??-#??) Sutimiv finishes coding JPHarrington notes which include all 4 reels (over 6000 pages were recorded,
thousands of hours non-stop 7days a week 8 to 24 hours daily- now deemed the "Mad Coder") Begins working on JPHarrington
2008 -Language Committee Pam Munro's Grammar Lessons continue(Lessons#??-#??) Phrase Book by Pam Munro, also begins editing "Gabrieliño"
Harrington notes , Sutimiv begins on JPHarrington Luiseño notes.
2009-2013 Grammar Lesson We
now have #26 lessons in grammar created by Pam Munro.
-15 Tongvapedia Major project of documentation of all that is Tongva, "A LIVING DOCUMENT", hopefully
leading to Federal Recognition.
To order a phrase book click here
Click here for large print phrase book