Searching for Lost City: On the Trail of America's Native Languages

Searching for Lost City: On the Trail of America's Native Languages

by Elizabeth Seay


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Searching for Lost City: On the Trail of America's Native Languages by Elizabeth Seay

First Prize Multicultural Non-Fiction, The Independent Publishers Book Awards

Choctaw, Creek, Sioux, Cherokee, and Ponca are just a few of the Native American tribal languages that are quickly moving towards extinction, down from the nearly six hundred that once existed. Experts predict that the number could drop to twenty by the middle of the century. Before they disappear completely, journalist Elizabeth Seay set out to track down what is left of these languages in her native Oklahoma. Her deeply felt narrative opens a window onto the quirks and intricacies of each language she encountered--and allows a glimpse into the last days of a vanishing culture.

Seay finds a "lost city": Ross Mountain, a secret community in the Ozark Mountains where 90 percent of the people, from young to old, speak a Cherokee dialect as their first language. She meets leaders in the Indian community, from Toby Hughes, who weaves spells, to Charles Chibitty, the last Comanche code talker, and his granddaughter Lacey, for whom being a Comanche seems to be a weekend hobby. The result of Seay's journey is less a study in linguistics than a lively history lesson in cultural migration, forced assimilation, and the meaning of language itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592286447
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/01/2004
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

ELIZABETH SEAY is a writer and editor for The Wall Street Journal, and her writing will be featured in the anthology Floating Off the Page: The Best Stories from The Wall Street Journal's 'Middle Column.' She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1"Where Do I Find Lost City?"1
Chapter 2Lost Causes13
Chapter 3The Code Talker35
Chapter 4Orphan Child55
Chapter 5Plan B79
Chapter 6The Kiowa Rules103
Chapter 7"I Have Come to Cover You"121
Chapter 8Seminole Rap143
Chapter 9The Road to Ross Mountain161
Chapter 10Inside the Language181
Author's Notes221

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