Acoma Pueblo’s Emergency Push To Save Its Language

Acoma Pueblo is considered the oldest continually inhabited community in North America. And only about a hundred people or so still speak the Acoma Keres language. Many of those fluent speakers gathered earlier this month in Acoma to record their voices, saving words, concepts and culture. They’re hoping that someday soon, young people will speak the language, too.

It was a cloudy, drizzly day. But it was warm and smelled like good food cooking in the Acoma Learning Center. In six separate rooms there, people—mostly elders—gathered around tables with microphones in the middle. They thought up all the Acoma-Keres words that they could to describe thin people. They went around the table and confirmed them.

These days, mostly adults and older folks speak this endangered language. The women here are working with a linguist from an organization called The Language Conservancy who wrote down their words phonetically. Until now, Acoma-Keres has been an oral tradition. Becky Martin said recalling words also means recalling history. “I could remember where we went to go pray, where we went to go do things, how my grandparents would describe this vast land or something like that,” she said.

Read more: KUNM

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