Tutelo is a Siouan language which is also known as Tutelo-Saponi. It was orginally spoken in Virginia and West Virginia in the USA. Speakers later moved to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York, and Ontario in Canada. The last fluent speaker, Nikonha, died in Onario in 1871. He gave some Tutelo vocabulary to Horatio Hale, an ethnologist, who published a grammar and vocabulary of Tutelo in 1883. Tutelo and Cayuga people retained some knowledge of the language, and this was recorded by various scholars during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the 21st century there has been interest in reviving Tutelo. One person working on the revitalization is Karenne Wood, a member of the Monacan tribe who was given a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship in 2005, and at that time was pursuing a doctorate in anthropology at the Univeristy of Virginia. She is now director of the Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Monacan people at the Monacan Indian Village in Natural Bridge in Virginia use Tutelo to some extent to welcome visitors.
Ekue itani okahok amai, mantoi, moni, yoma hena amai toka gidaya hua. Waneni yahuaoka, wien imahese tahontaneki ihao otoi, mangree sani ngowa hohiowa, nikas nanqluba. Yangoaw maesan hoyahane mikito waneni nikas wet hinosek inewa enugide ire aoma maqgitambui sementa gide. Wetmae nanka akateka tokenaq asanitkueniq nikas nahmabe kisuina. Aoma maqgitambui hentkooq neke waneni bi. Wetmae konspewa nahambe akatia maste. Wangowa biwa ire yim nikas hena amai okahok ngoka.
Great chief of all the land, the sky, the waters, you made mother earth from where everything comes. Winter has come, the trees are without leaves and the cold winds bring snow and ice. Give to us the sweet fruits of winter and let our bows find fat game to make our stomachs big. Let us stay warm as the snow becomes ice and the days become short. Make our paths this winter good. Let us remember the warm days of spring. I give thanks to you and the earth mother for all you have given.
Information about the Tutelo language
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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