TLC’s 2016 Language Status Updates

In February, The Language Conservancy’s sister organization – Lakota Language Consortium – released an official update on the status of the language. expansion

With only 2,000 first-language Lakota speakers left, the Ethnologue will now “redesignate the Lakota language from “Threatened” to “Moribund”, with the special status of “Reawakening”– reflecting the community’s commitment to bringing back the language into every day use.”

The Language Conservancy would like to report an update on the overall figures for its partner tribes and their languages. The following estimates are based on anecdotal evidence collected from community members (teachers, parents, administrators and others involved with language preservation).

  • The 2006-2010 U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were approximately 3,705 Crow speakers. The current estimates are now between 1,500-2,000 first-language speakers.


  • Cherokee, one of the healthier language communities, was reported to have 11,610 speakers in the last U.S. Census Bureau report. However, now community members estimate 1,500-2,000 speakers are left.


  • MHA Nation reports that there are less than 50 first-language speakers of Hidatsa, only 1 speaker of Mandan, and approximately 11 semi-fluent speakers of Arikara left.


  • Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin reports that communities have less then 10 first-language speakers of Ho-Chunk left.


  • There are an estimated 8 first-language speakers of Santee Dakota in Dakota communities of Minnesota.


  • Fort Peck Reservation in Montana reports that there are approximately 35 Dakota and 25 Assiniboine (Nakona) speakers in the community.


What are your thoughts on these statistics? Do you have any language updates from your community?

If you have any language status updates you would like to share, we welcome your comments below.


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  1. Serena d'Agostino

    When it is Census data, it may be not so accurate, or even hide the truth.
    I have looked into statistics about langauges spoken in the Maya region, Mex counting as speakers only the monolinguals, those who spoke just one language and it was the traditional language.
    If you ask people: do you ever speak your traditional language?
    Or do you understand words of your traditional language? figures would be more encouraging.
    These statistics will be contraddicted by the efforts to keep languages alive.

  2. Björn Rehnstrom

    In Sweden we have Elfdalian. Or Älvdalska inswedish. 2-3000 speakers. Frost Kindergarten is starten 1.9 2016 A swedosh-speaking person can not undestand or speaking untill he has ben living in Älvdalen in man years.

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