International Mother Language Day —21 February 2018
During time of contact here in northwestern California’s Humboldt County there were many different tribal groups. We were home to 3 distinct language families—2 language families and a language isolate might be more accurate. Since First Contact in approximately 1850 the status of our local tribes went from endangered to dire very quickly. This was especially the case for the smaller tribes of the area. The larger tribes were able to withstand the onslaught of Euro-American society.
For many of us today the loss of our languages, stories and songs was an unacceptable loss. Since contact there has been an continuing effort by our fluent elders to keep our languages alive. The belief is our languages were given to us by the Creation itself. With the passing of our elders who were raised in homes where our languages were primarily spoken many of us have dedicated ourselves to acquiring our languages. The specific motivation to do so differs for each of us, but the love of our languages is at the heart of our efforts.
The following is a proclamation to designate the 21st of February as Mother Language Day. A local group of native language activists created this first Proclamation as a first step. Each year we hope to remind our local county neighbors of the rich linguistic diversity that is indigenous to Humboldt County.