Endangered Language: Potawatomi

Remaining Speakers: 50 (growing)
Where is it Spoken? Ontario, Canada; Great Lakes, USA 

Potawatomi is a member of the Algonquian family, classified amongst other such languages as Cree, Shawnee and Fox. It has four vowel sounds and each only has one sound. *Potawaomi owes it’s endangered status to government mandated assimilation policies, whereby Native children were placed into boarding and residential schools and punished should they speak their native tongue. There is no standard orthography but a recent revitalization movement has adopted phonetics to help conserve the language and to facilitate learning. The language is currently undergoing a huge revitalization movement by the Hannahville Indian Community and you can even begin to take courses on line or attend a month long immersion course. If you want to play it like a true linguist you can also download lessons for your iPod and enjoy learning phrases such as ‘Zheton Gdeshkemodesh Gizhek’, meaning ‘make your own damn bag’, on the train or on your bike-ride to work.

Fortunately and to the great pleasure of many linguists, Potawatomi is making a comeback. Want to join in? Take a few lessons and help preserve this amazing language.

(*Edit: Thank you to Wakablogger for the correction)