Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program

The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is building their community capacity for Kiowa language instruction within five of their communities in southwest Oklahoma: Anadarko, Carnegie, Cache, Norman, and Tulsa. The Kiowa language is in danger of becoming extinct with only 20 fluent language speakers, and none of them under the age of 18.

Their NLCC project, “Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program,” seeks to build the community’s capacity for Kiowa language instruction through a continuum of Kiowa language instruction across all ages from preschool through college. Additionally, the NLCC will build awareness of and interest in Kiowa language revitalization among Kiowa families.

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The Kiowa people originally came from Western Montana, near present-day Yellowstone National Park. Over the course of time, they migrated southward, following the Rocky Mountains to eventually settle in the southern plains. In 1867, the United States government relocated the Kiowa people to the “Indian Territory,” which would later become the State of Oklahoma. Today, the Kiowa Tribe is based in the town of Carnegie, Oklahoma and has more than 12,000 members.

Kiowa language is an isolated language with no other Native American tribes using Kiowa. [gàui[dóñ:gyá (Kiowa talk) and within Kiowa names the language tells of their migration from the Northern country to where they are today in southwest Oklahoma. As is with most indigenous cultures, the Kiowa epistemology is held within its language: their ways, their customs, and their history is expressed through the Kiowa language. The people are still Kiowa without their language, but a lot of who they are is demonstrated through use of Kiowa language during their societal obligations with Kiowa songs and prayers. It is important that the Kiowa people continue to utilize their language as it is in danger of not being understood by those that still sing the songs and continue their prayers. Currently, approximately 20 fluent Kiowa speakers are left out of approximately 12,000 enrolled tribal members. The low number classifies Kiowa as an endangered language. The Kiowa language is only spoken by the grandparent and great-grandparent generations and no fluent Kiowa language speakers under 18 years-old in the Kiowa Tribe exist.  

The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma utilize their NLCC project, “Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program,” to build the community’s capacity for Kiowa language instruction. The NLCC project aims to carry out a continuum of high-quality Kiowa language instruction across all educational levels from preschool through post-secondary. The focus will be on five (5) Kiowa communities – Anadarko, Carnegie, Cache, Norman, and Tulsa. Each community will be supported with Kiowa language mentorship sessions to increase language learners’ proficiency levels. Kiowa language learning materials will be developed for all instructional groups using a thematic, values-based, community-defined curriculum grounded in Kiowa Ways of Knowing. During each project year, the Kiowa Tribe will host community and family engagement events that will provide meaningful opportunities for language use by children and their families. “Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program” will meet their goal to build capacity for Kiowa language instruction through three objectives by the end of the cooperative agreement.

  1. Develop and implement a Kiowa language teacher professional development and credentialing program.
  2. Develop, and complete a minimum of 20 sets of Kiowa language learning materials.
  3. Implement a minimum of one Kiowa language and culture outreach activity per quarter at each of 5 identified sites representing 5 different Kiowa communities: Anadarko, Carnegie, Cache, Norman, and Tulsa.

With a rich and complex culture, empowering ceremonial and spiritual practices, and a language that is distinct, complicated, and unrelated to a vast majority of North American and world languages, the Kiowa people remain culturally and spiritually intact despite the century of forced assimilation into foreign American society.

Below you will find the links to Kiowa Tribe’s Language and Culture Revitalization Program’s media, website, and social media pages.

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