Preservation and Access: Documenting Endangered Languages - Preservation

Period of Performance

6/1/2016 - 5/31/2019

Funding Totals

$200,000.00 (approved)
$200,000.00 (awarded)

Achumawi (Pit River; acv) Linguistic Database

FAIN: PD-250041-16

Endangered Language Fund, Inc. (New Haven, CT 06511-6660)
Bruce E. Nevin (Project Director: September 2015 to March 2021)

The completion of a linguistic database for the nearly extinct language Achumawi, a heritage language of the Pit River tribe in Northern California.

(edited by staff) The primary aim of this project is to complete a linguistic database (DB) for the critically endangered Achumawi language, integrating and normalizing archival data from diverse locations.  The poor quality of published data has hampered researchers, and the substantial archival data will be essentially useless forever to the Tribe and to researchers unless this work is done. The PI is uniquely qualified to do this, having 45 years experience working with the language and people, support from tribal organizations and individuals, and possession of the original and archival field records, audio recordings, and transcriptions. The result will be completion of a single consistent, cross-checked, searchable resource that is freely available to researchers and members of the Tribe. The PI is training tribe members to participate in identifying and extracting pedagogically useful material from the database and from the correlated audio recordings, and in eliciting and recording material from the very few elders who retain even limited command of the language.

Media Coverage

NEH Grant Goes to Edgartown Resident (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Julia Wells
Publication: The Vineyard Gazette
Date: 4/22/2016
Abstract: Bruce Nevin of Edgartown recently received a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete a linguistic database of Achumawi, the language of the Pit River people in northeastern California. The award is part of the Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) program, a joint program of the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop and advance scientific and scholarly knowledge concerning endangered human languages. Mr. Nevin plans to use the grant to incorporate available archival materials on the language together with his own extensive collection of text, songs and other language data recorded from the last fluent speakers, beginning in 1970 and extending to the early 1990s. He described the challenging phonology of the language in his 1998 dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, and has been developing a database since the mid 1980s with software specialized for linguistic analysis.

Associated Products

Achumawi.db (Database/Archive/Digital Edition)
Title: Achumawi.db
Author: Bruce Nevin
Abstract: Product of ongoing work. Snapshots, in the form of backup files, are posted at for researchers and members of the Pit River (Achumawi) tribe. Annually on or about July 1 a snapshot is archived at the American Philosophical Society.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Instructions for downloading the database backup file; for downloading and installing the database software, fonts, keyboard customization, etc.; and for creating one's local mirror of the database by using the database software to 'restore' the most recent backup file.
Access Model: Open access