The Caddo Nation Language Preservation Program’s goal
is to halt and reverse the loss of the critically endangered
Caddo tribal language over time.
The Caddo Nation Language Preservation Program began on August 1st, 2022 when the Caddo Nation hired language revitalizationist, Alaina Tahlate.
Miss Tahlate works with Caddo community members who are knowledgable about Caddo language to facilitate a revitalization of the collective Caddo community's knowledge and usage of Caddo language.
Caddo Language Rescue Phrases
With the involvement and input of Caddo community members, new language learning resources will be developed.
The program will integrate with other Caddo Nation programs through community events to create more opportunities for Caddo families to share their communal knowledge of our Caddo history, language and culture with one another.
The language revitalizationist will continue to record elders, compile linguistic research, and design Caddo language lessons for future community language events.
The Caddo language is grouped into the language family now called Caddoan. The Caddoan language family includes Caddo, Pawnee, Wichita, Arikara, and Kitsai (also spelled Keechi and Kichai). Although linguistically related, the tribes that compose the Caddoan language family are culturally, historically, and archaeologically separate Nations. The Caddo language is known as Hasinai (ha-SEE-nay) to its native speakers. Caddo people typically refer to their own people and language as Caddo when speaking English.
The Caddo language was spoken in what is now called Southeastern Oklahoma, Northeastern Texas, Southwestern Arkansas, and Northwestern Louisiana prior to the Caddo’s forced removal from their homelands by the United States government. Caddo people belonged to three confederacies at the point of contact with European colonizers; the Kadohadacho, Natchitoches, and Hasinai (see fig. 1).
The confederacies were socio-culturally and linguistically synonymous. Within the three historical confederacies there were many confederated sub-tribes, colloquially known as bands. There were mutually intelligible dialectal differences between the bands. Even today, different speakers may speak different dialects and have different ways to pronounce words.
The Caddo language has been documented by some linguists through the years. Much of the linguistic analysis done on the language has been the work of Dr. Lynette Melnar and the late Dr. Wallace Chafe. The linguistic anthropology of the language was the emphasis of Dr. Alice Anderton and Brian Levy. Despite the diligent efforts of linguists over the years, there is still much left of the Caddo language and wider Caddoan language family that is yet to be linguistically described.
Caddo language preservation efforts have been hosted by Caddo community members for decades. The leaders in language preservation were interested in documenting Hasinai where it intersected with cultural practices that were at the heart of Caddo culture as a whole. This approach employs language as a means of greater cultural revitalization; language is not seen as separate from the history and living culture, but rather, the thing that binds the people and their shared spirituality, land, and history together. Cultural gatherings such as annual dances became the center of Caddo language use, and remain the most likely place you will hear Caddo language spoken today.
Caddo language efforts continue today at the individual and community level.