Research Programs: Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages - Fellowships

Period of Performance

8/1/2018 - 3/31/2019

Funding Totals

$25,200.00 (approved)
$25,200.00 (awarded)

Wadateka'a Nadeguyengana: Harney Valley Paiute Stories

FAIN: FN-260674-18

Timothy J. Thornes
Boise State University (Boise, ID 83725-0001)

Research and analysis in preparation of a book of Northern Paiute folktales and autobiographical narratives that document the language and history of the Wadateka’a in Harney Valley, Oregon.

The Wadateka'a Nadeguyengana: Harney Valley Paiute Stories project involves the preparation of recorded narratives in the Northern Paiute language (categorized as Western Numic, Uto-Aztecan) as spoken by a few remaining speakers on the Burns Paiute reservation in Harney Valley, Oregon. The present-day community is part of the band known as the Wadateka'a (seepweed seed-eaters). The goal of the project is to complete the thorough transcription, analysis and translation of more than 70 narratives of various genres for publication as a book. As a critically endangered language, such material in Northern Paiute is not widely available. The final product will include supplemental material in the form of basic grammatical information, a detailed description of the writing system, and photos, maps, and drawings. The selection and vetting of the material by the community is ongoing, as feedback has already been solicited and received on draft portions modeled upon what will be the final product. The publication will serve both the field of linguistics and the various communities that identify the language as a fundamental part of their cultural heritage. Tribes are interested in capturing elements of history that take the perspective of the community more fully into account. Such history, in the form of folktales and legends as well as ethno-historical and autobiographical narrative in the indigenous language, is invaluable to the task of reclaiming and asserting that perspective. (Edited by staff)

Associated Products

Endangered Languages of Idaho (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Endangered Languages of Idaho
Author: Tim Thornes
Abstract: The United Nations has declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This timely lecture on a study of the endangered languages of Idaho tribes will use research and findings to provide a regional context to a complex global issue.
Date Range: 2019
Location: Yanke Research Center, Boise State University
Primary URL:

Documentation across generations: 100 years of Northern Paiute field study in Burns, Oregon (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Documentation across generations: 100 years of Northern Paiute field study in Burns, Oregon
Author: Ruth Lewis
Author: Tim Thornes
Abstract: In the early 1900s, before the earliest known work on the Northern Paiute language was published, a skilled amateur linguist and physician named Dr. W. L. Marsden began documenting the language of Captain (Patotzi) Louie in the town of Burns in eastern Oregon. As a doctoral student of Mary Haas at the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages (SCOIL), Michael J. P. Nichols spent three summers conducting field research near Burns, Oregon, with Marian Jim Louie, the daughter-in- law of Captain Louie. Nearly thirty years after Nichols’ time in Burns, the co-authors began working together to document the stories of elders of the Burns Paiute Tribe, including those recollected by two of Marian Louie’s children, among others. This presentation explores the changes that can be traced both in the Northern Paiute language itself across three generations of speakers of the same communolect and in the approaches to and products of documentation by evaluating both in terms of language maintenance efforts and linguistic science. Greater understanding of variation can contribute to revitalization efforts through the incorporation of legacy materials into the process.
Date: 10/31/2019
Primary URL:
Conference Name: IYIL: Perspectives