Crow language classified as endangered
Thu, 06/23/2016 - 5:00am admin
By Levi C. Flinn, Big Horn County News
“Indigenous languages have been the victims of especially destructive historical pressures whose effects are only now starting to be fully realized,” the Language Conservancy website states, “Given current trends, an estimated 90 percent of the world’s 6,000 languages will become extinct or near-extinct in the next 100 years.”
In 2012, the Crow language was defined as “definitely endangered” by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.
According to a U.S. Census report released in 2015, around 3,900 of the 13,000 enrolled Crow tribal members speak Crow as their first language, the other 70 percent, predominantly speak English – a 40 percent decrease compared to figures from 1998.
According to Ethnologue, an international online language database, the figures from 1998 show 77 percent of Crow people over 66 years old spoke the language and “some” parents and older adults, “few” high school students and “no pre-schoolers” spoke Crow.
The Crow Language Status, as rated by Ethnelogue, is 6b, or “threatened”.
The language status scale, as shown in the photo, consists of 13 levels. Each higher rating on the scale, from top to bottom, represents a greater level of disruption to the language. The Crow language is rated at 6b, which is at 8 of the 13 levels.
However, according to www.ourmothertongue.org – a Native American language media website – “the [Crow] Tribe estimates that nearly 85 percent of their 11,000 members speak Crow as their first language.”
This seems accurate according to Crow Consortium instructor and Author Randy Graczyk – who is also the priest of Pryor’s St. Charles Parish.
Graczyk claims in his A Grammar of Crow that “unlike many other native languages of North America in general, and the Northern Plain in particular, the Crow language still exhibits considerable vitality.”
“There are fluent speakers of all ages, and at least some children are still acquiring Crow as their first language,” he said. “Many of the younger population who do not speak Crow are able to understand it.”
Graczyk cites that traditional culture within the community has preserved the language via religious ceremonies and the traditional clan system.