Getting Back What We Lost


Welcome. We invite you to sit with us for a virtual circle talk where we share our stories of surviving colonization, and reclaiming our history, culture and languages.

We are indigenous people of different tribal nations, each with our own unique experience. We are students and teachers, but everyone here has been called to a journey of discovery to learn the words and breathe the living sounds of their ancestors.

Together, we hope our stories help you realize the importance of language, inspire you to join us on your own journey, and guide you to the tools you need to resurrect our native tongues.


Every Word is a Victory

The Columbia Encyclopedia estimates that there were more than 15 million speakers of over 2,000 indigenous languages spoken across the entire Western Hemisphere in 1492.

By the middle of the 20th century, roughly two-thirds of all indigenous American languages had died out or were on the brink of extinction.

This devastating loss was further accelerated as indigenous peoples in Canada and the USA were subjected to a program of forced cultural assimilation, carried out through government-mandated boarding schools designed to destroy native culture and identity.

At these schools, children were forbidden from speaking their tribal languages, wearing their tribal clothing and observing native religions.

According to Ethnologue, of the 115 Indigenous languages spoken in the U.S. today 79 are in danger of going extinct within a generation.

As of 2021, all surviving Iroquoian languages are severely or critically endangered

six nations of the Iroquois

  • Mohawk (Kanienkahagen) – The People of the Flint

  • Oneida (Onayotekaono) – The People of the Upright Stone

  • Onondaga (Onundagaono) – The People of the Hills

  • Cayuga (Guyohkohnyoh) – The People of the Great Swamp

  • Seneca (Onondowahgah)– The People of the Great Hill

  • Tuscarora (Ska-Ruh-Reh) – The Shirt Wearing People

"Speak your language! Nothing you could do would be more valuable to the cause than this.
Whether you are full or mixed blood, reservation or urban: learn it, speak some every day, teach it to your children."

Laura Redish, Director
Native Languages of the Americas