Cayuga is an Iroquoian language spoken mainly along the Grand River in southern Ontario in Canada by about 240 people. A small number of Cayuga elders in New York state also speak the language. In 2012 there were thought to be 79 fluent Cayuga speakers.
There were two main dialects of Cayuga: one spoken in Ontario and one spoken in Oklahoma, however the Oklhoma dialect, known as Seneca-Cayuga, became extinct in the 1980s. There are currently two dialects of Ontario Cayuga: Lower Cayuga and Upper Cayuga, with only minor differences in pronunciation between them.
Cayuga immersions classes are offered in a high school on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, amd diploma and degree programs in Cayuga are available at the Six Nations Polytechnic in Ohseweken in Ontario.
Download a Cayuga alphabet chart (Excel)
by Marg Henry
Ne⁷ ni:⁷ ahi:⁷ ęga:tro:wí⁷, nę:gyę́h ękniho:wí⁷, dę⁷ ho⁷dę́⁷ niyaw⁷ęǫ́h ne⁷ swé⁷geh hne:⁷. Ǫ̨gyá⁷se:⁷ gę:sagyadewayęsthá⁷ ha⁷dé:yǫ́:. Do:gwa⁷ gę:s n⁷aonishe⁷ tó:ne⁷ kso:tgéh hǫ: ha⁷a:kné:⁷, a⁷agyagyǫ⁷se̲há⁷, ha⁷dé:yǫ: gę:s na⁷agyagyé:⁷ a⁷akiyenawá⁷s ne⁷ kso:t. Ne⁷gi⁷nę:gyę́hsǫgása:⁷, ayę:⁷ gę:stgǫháǫgye⁷ ne⁷ tę⁷ gwáhs d⁷eakniksa⁷dí:yo:, Ha⁷de:yǫ́: niyagyagyé:ha⁷.
As for me, I think I will speak of this: I will tell you both what happened along time ago. My cousin and I used to learn many different things. Along time ago we used to go to our grandpa’s place, we went to visit; we used to do many different things; we helped our grandma. This is what Iremember, I think that we weren’t always good children; A lot of things we used to do we used to do a lot of things.
Information about the Cayuga language and culture
Cayuga word list