Oklahoma woman is last fluent speaker of Wichita

Doris Jean Lamar is the last fluent speaker of the Wichita language.

Lamar, who was born in Oklahoma in 1927, learned the language from her grandparents. "Ever since I could remember, I spoke Wichita," she told The Tulsa World.

Now the 80-year-old grandmother is working with a linguist at University of Colorado to preserve the language. She carries around a tape recorder to document Wichita words, phrases and ideas.

"I never thought I would be in this position as a girl, to be our last fluent speaker," she said.

Other Oklahoma tribes are in similar situations. Six have fewer than five fluent speakers and 14 have no remaining fluent speakers.

Get the Story:
Tribal language fading away (The Tulsa World 11/26)
At a Loss for Words (The Washington Post 11/25)