OLAC Record

Title:First Meeting to Speak Wichita
Making Wichita Accessible: A Multimedia Archive of Data and Analyses
David S. Rood and Armik Mirzayan
Coverage:United States
Description:Speakers were asked a number of questions about their experiences over the years; the idea was to get them thinking about events where Wichita would have been the language of choice. We begin talking about Camp Creek, an annual gathering of Wichita families for socializing and celebrating, and drift into other topics such as children's songs, religion, proper behavior, and various personal anecdotes. Most of the discussion was in English, despite repeated admonitions by the linguist to switch to Wichita. Stories which did not include any Wichita language have been excluded from the archived version of this video. Several of the contributions by Dru are excellent examples of code switching: the story is generally in English, but Wichita dialogue is reported in Wichita.
Doris is the most fluent speaker in the group, and the most willing to speak. She was raised by grandparents and in her youth used Wichita for all communication around the home. In recent years she has been the primary resource person for the tribe's language classes.
Pearl claims to be one of the two oldest living Wichitas. She spoke the language extensively as a child and young adult, but was married to a Caddo man and did not use the language with her own children. She is not able to say much in Wichita, but her memories of local history and of traditional culture are vivid and detailed, and she often dominates the conversation with them, though only in English. She performs some songs very competently, although protesting that surgery some years ago damaged her throat.
Shirley has not spoken the language much in her adult life, though she can often recall things that her parents and grandparents said, and she understands a lot.
Dru has spoken the language all her life. She is an active participant in the Native American Church, and uses Wichita for prayers during their services. She is willing to try to say things in Wichita when no one else will. She occasionally makes grammar mistakes, such as an error in aspect choice or verb conjugation type, but these do not hinder comprehension of her intended message.
Mary is Myles's sister; she does not speak the language, and understands very little as well. She was present at Myles's invitation.
Stuart is a cultural custodian for the tribe, though he does not speak the language fluently. He knows many, many songs with Wichita words, and the meanings of those words, and he has taught Wichita word lists to his students at Riverside High School. He heads a drum group which tries to teach younger tribal members the songs; he is the leader of the Wichitas w/r/t the annual visitation with the Pawnee (the two tribes take turns hosting a summer campout, dance, and ceremony with lots of tradition behind it); and he grows a big garden with traditional Wichita varieties of corn, pumpkins and melons and prepares traditional food dishes from his harvest. There are separate archived documents in which he sings and discusses many, many songs.
Myles was a grounds keeper and handyman at the Riverside HIgh School most of his adult life. He learned the language as a child, and still speaks it comfortably within certain limits. He knows and likes to sing many songs, though not with any of the drum groups. He has been very helpful in providing a male perspective on both some of the language and the culture.
The senior collector is a linguist at the University of Colorado who has been studying Wichita since 1967. His assistant is a graduate student in linguistics. On the videotape, Rood is frequently heard prompting for additional information. Mirzayan operated the camera and controlled the recording devices.
Several speakers shared a microphone. There is considerable noise from people shuffling things at the table or snacking, as well as some interference from people in a neighboring room.
David asks people to recall camp creek experiences.
Doris describes Camp Creek participants as spiritual people, and mentions some ghost dance songs, which Myles and Pearl sing and discuss.
Dru tells a funny story about what happened to her this morning.
Dru describes a "Wichita Boogeyman" at Camp Creek.
Dru describes the way people were rewarded for praying for children, and the discussion continues into the proper use of the "lulu" -- the loud, warbling trills that (usually) women make at the end of war dance songs.
Doris recalls the Wichita word for 'lulu' and others confirm it.
Dru tells the story of the burying of a medicine bundle and its acceptance by its deceased owner with a "lulu".
Myles describes a funny incident when a traditional offer of payment for a favor was rejected.
Shirley describes some social interaction among teenage girls and the "Wichita cuss word" is introduced.
Pearl and Mary discuss a time when Mary lulu-ed, and Pearl introduces the epithet k'�ta:ks 'coyote'. This leads to a discussion of a few animal names.
Dru sings a song that contains words she doesn't know; some of the others speculate on their meaning.
With prompting, Myles sings a song about baby turtle doves, and one about a buzzard. The latter, being about baldheadedness, is an occasion for generalized teasing of Gary.
Dru describes an attempt by her aunt to avoid speaking Wichita which ultimately fails. It is an excellent anecdote about why the language is lost. There is considerable rattling of tinfoil in the background, however, as others prepare to leave and take some of the leftovers from the meal with them.
Speakers of Wichita were gathered for a meal and a chance to "talk Wichita" with each other for about two hours. This session records the first meeting, in which the Linguist tries to stimulate conversation by asking a number of questions, most of which result in either long discussion in English or no responses. Only the successful questions (those which elicited some Wichita language data) and the resulting discussion are archived. There are some short monologues, and several songs with a discussion about them. The following are the topics of conversation as they come up on the video: David tries to get the conversation started by suggesting people talk about experiences at Camp Creek, a former (probably in the 1940s and 1950s) summer gathering place for Wichita families to camp and socialize. Those who went to Camp Creek tended not to be churchgoers. Doris refers to a recorded text from the 1960s that David had played for her earlier that day. The text (BP BP conversations) will also be available in the archive eventually. It was free conversation between two good friends, and included the passages to which Doris refers here. The speakers in the text had begun to discuss a Ghost Dance song, and one of them had complained that the use of “Our Father” and other references to the Christian God was inappropriate (presumably because those singing it were not Christians and it was not a Christian song). Doris asserts that the people who went to Camp Creek were extremely religious, and that the woman speaking on the tape was being inappropriately critical. Doris quotes the ‘our Father’ line in Wichita. Myles inquires more about the song, and says he knows it. Pearl also says she knows it, Myles encourages her to sing it but she demurs. With encouragement from Doris, Myles sings it. Pearl then thinks of another one, and sings that one. Doris reverts to her theme that despite what was said on the tape, the Camp Creek attendees were spiritual people. Pearl then goes back and translates the song she sang. Further discussion emphasizes that the songs were always about the Lord. David redirects the conversation to Dru, who had told him she had come prepared to tell a little story. It is a joke, told bilingually, first in Wichita and then in English. Then she goes on to describe a “Wichita boogey-man”, someone who regularly “teased” the young women. (“Teasing” is a complex division of relatives into two groups, those whom you can (and must, if possible) insult, and those who must be protected from insults. The relationship is transitive: if someone is insulting someone whom you are supposed to protect, you must protest. The insults are usually very personal and often sexual.) Dru describes(mostly in English) the way this man behaved, and others chime in with more stories about him. Dru then recalls another Camp Creek event where her mother arranged to have an old Pawnee woman pray for her daughter (Dru). This creates the opportunity to discuss the difference between the old and new ways of doing things, such as arranging for blessings and giving gifts. Pearl is then inspired to talk about the special properties of “lulu-ing,” performing the women’s war cry, and how that has been diluted in recent times. David interrupts to collect the appropriate vocabulary. Dru is then reminded of another story about her cousin, when a young child, accompanying her grandmother into the wilderness to help with the proper burial of the medicine bundle of a deceased relative, and how a “lulu” was heard to acknowledge the proper completion of the action. Myles speaks up with a story about himself as a young boy and a Camp Creek experience. One of his “teasing” relatives was confronted by a “non-teasing” relative over what she was doing to Myles, and their interactions strike everyone as funny. Shirley is then reminded of some behavior among the girls and young women involving reading magazine stories, and others offer parallel remarks. Since many of the stories involved men mistreating women, the speakers use the word “tite’es” about them. That prompts Doris and Pearl to comment on that as the only “cuss word” in the language. Pearl starts another topic but is sidetracked almost at once by Mary, the only non-speaker in the group, telling about an occasion when she “lulu”ed in private. Pearl teasingly calls her “Coyote”, though she translates the word as “fox”. A discussion of the term (k’ita:ks) follows, with input from Stuart, concluding that “coyote” is correct. Then Doris asks about another animal name, and they conclude it means ‘panther’. This reminds Dru of another song about an animal that she can’t identify. She sings it, and Pearl asserts that it’s about the buffalo having disappeared. David then reminds Myles of a song he has sung before, a children’s song about the mourning doves that supposedly warns against being too noisy. Myles sings it, translates it, and there is some discussion of it. Then Doris asks Gary about the “buzzard” song which everyone uses to tease him. Both Myles and Pearl sing it. Gary redirects the conversation to another story by Dru about her aunt and her grandmother. Part of this is hard to hear because people are rattling aluminum foil as they pack up the leftovers from the meal to take home. Eventually the noise subsides and Dru begins the story again, abbreviating the beginning. Dru uses a lot of code switching: the story is in English, but the characters speak Wichita when she quotes them. Even the woman who purports to have stopped understanding and speaking the language is quoted as if she had spoken Wichita, however. Shirley changes the subject with a short story about Doris helping her grandmother with the grocery shopping, and Doris adds some comments about the merchants of the time, including a little of the terminology for money.
The project is to videotape the last speakers of Wichita talking in and about their language, history over the last century, and culture. Videotapes were made in the summers of 2002 and 2003 in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
This file was generated from an IMDI 1.9 file and transformed to IMDI 3.0. The substructure of Genre is replaced by two elements named "Genre" and "SubGenre". The original content of Genre substructure was: Interactional = 'conversation', Discursive = 'anecdotes, songs, discussion of word meanings', Performance = 'conversation'. These values have been added as Keys to the Content information.
Six Wichita speakers (Stuart, Doris, Shirley, Pearl, Dru, and Myles), one non-speaker (Mary), the linguist, and the tribal President, Gary McAdams, exchange information in an open, unstructured conversation. All of these people except the linguist have lived near each other most of their lives, and shared many childhood and young adult experiences.
Rood is the linguist on the project. He has been working with Wichita since about 1967.
Gary is the President of the tribe, and has done much to foster language preservation and revival. He has learned to speak Wichita as an adult and does not participate much in these discussions.
Shirley recalls an incident when Doris was speaking Wichita with her grandmother in the grocery store, and Doris recalls something about the grocer being able to speak a little Wichita.
David invites everyone back for another meeting, and admonishes them to practice in the meantime.
Publisher:David S. Rood
University of Colorado; Volkswagen Foundation
Subject:Wichita language
English language
Subject (ISO639):wic


Archive:  The Language Archive at the MPI for Psycholinguistics
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/www.mpi.nl
GetRecord:  OAI-PMH request for OLAC format
GetRecord:  Pre-generated XML file

OAI Info

OaiIdentifier:  oai:www.mpi.nl:1839_00-0000-0000-001B-7E30-0
DateStamp:  2017-02-14
GetRecord:  OAI-PMH request for simple DC format

Search Info

Citation: David; Gary; Doris; Pearl; Shirley; Dru; Mary; Stuart; Myles; David S. Rood and Armik Mirzayan. 2002-06-25. David S. Rood.
Terms: area_Americas area_Europe country_GB country_US iso639_eng iso639_wic

Inferred Metadata

Country: United KingdomUnited States
Area: AmericasEurope

Up-to-date as of: Wed Apr 12 1:53:54 EDT 2017