Running Strong helps Native American communities preserve their traditional language and culture for future generations
All over the United States, Native American communities are coming together to keep their traditional languages and cultures alive. Native linguists estimate that when Europeans first landed on this continent, more than 300 Native American languages were spoken in North America. Today, there are only about 100. Running Strong seeks to prevent any further linguistic or cultural loss. We support initiatives to preserve knowledge passed down from a disappearing generation of elders and to teach this knowledge to the next generation of Native American youth. By partnering with groups that have culturally based programs such as schools, cultural societies, traditional youth camps, and museums, we are helping to save and share tribal cultures.
The Euchee (Yuchi) are a small band of Native Americans originally from the Southeast region of Georgia. When they were forcibly removed to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, the federal government placed them under the Muskogee Creek Nation. Though they are separated from their homeland, they have maintained their cultural ways and continue to practice their traditions. The Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project is one illustration of this, as it their method for preserving the tribal language, an integral part of their identity.
Euchee is an incredibly unique language. Experts consider it an isolated language, meaning it did not derive from any other language or cultural group. Beginning with approximately ten fluent speakers, local Euchee tribal members formed the Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project in efforts to preserve the language and pass it on to their children. The project has produced recordings of elders speaking the language, archived words in writing and created different types of teaching materials. In efforts to teach the language, they facilitate children’s immersion programs, master-apprentice teams, and language camps. Fluent elders hold classes on a daily basis to share the language breath-to-breath.
When Euchee children are able to praise their ancestors in the traditional tongue, the future is looking brighter.