Northern Sierra Miwok

Northern Sierra Miwok was traditionally spoken in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada along the upper Mokelumne and Calaveras Rivers and along the south fork of the Cosumnes River. In pre-contact times, there were an estimated 19,500 speakers of Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Central, Northern, and Southern Sierra Miwok together (Levy 1978). Today, Northern Sierra Miwok has fewer than a dozen speakers (Golla 2011).

Northern Sierra Miwok is a Miwokan language, most closely related to Central Sierra Miwok and Southern Sierra Miwok. The others members of this family are Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Plains Miwok, and Saclan. The Miwokan languages comprise one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family, within which they form a subgroup with the Ohlone languages (Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen). Penutian includes, in addition, Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Wintuan languages (Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu), and the Yokuts languages.

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Further reading

  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1987. Northern Sierra Miwok dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Freeland, L. S. 1951. Language of the Sierra Miwok. (Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics, Memoir 6.) Bloomington, ID: Indiana University Press.
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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