Yolo County Library

Indigenous Languages

Posted on

Learning one’s mother tongue is essential for children’s cognitive development and self-awareness for so many reasons. This blog has mentioned a few! While those on the outside can learn to appreciate the languages and the people who belong to diverse Native American cultures that have persisted for those within Native American communities, it is so much more. It is a sense of pride and empowerment in self-identity.

A 2010 study conducted by the Census found that 169 Native American spoken languages exist in the US alone. While Native American languages make up a large chunk of non-English languages (about 40% actually) only 4 million people speak those languages.

This isn’t new information for Native American tribes as they’ve already made enormous efforts to preserve their cultures by teaching those languages to future generations. These efforts at revitalizing their languages have not been in vain, just take a look at some of the results that have yielded since such programs started.

Here at YCL we have a collection of books and resources for those who are seeking to reconnect with their languages or learn about Native American languages. Please note that some of these books provide full sentences, others have phrases or words within a mostly English text.


The Apple Tree Written by Sandy Tharp-Thee Illustrations by Marlena Campbell Hodson
The Apple Tree by Sandy Tharp


We Are Grateful. Otsaligeliga. by Traci Sopell Illustrated by Frane Lessac
We Are Grateful / Otsaliheliga by Tracy Sorell



We All Play. Kimetawanaw. by Julie Flett
We All Play / Kimêtawânaw by Julie Flett


Niwechihaw. I Help. by Caitlin Dale Nicholson
Niwechihaw = I help by Caitlin Dale Nicholson



The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation. By Alice B. McGinty Illustrations by Shonto Begay.
The Water lady: how darlene arviso helps a thirsty navajo nation


My Heart Fills With Happiness. Nijiikendam. By Monique Gray Smith. Illustrated by Julie Flett.
My Heart Fills with Happiness/ Nijiikendam by Julie Flett


Bowwow Powwow By Brenda J. Child. Illustrations by Jonathan Thunder. Translation by Gordon Jourdain.
Bowwow Powwow / Bagosenjige-Niimi’idim by Brenda J Child


We have lots of books in any of these languages above, please ask our librarians for more or look them up in our catalog.

In a hurry? Check out this Turtle Island Storytime Kit available for check out at any of our YCL libraries! The kit contains several books, a puppet and some activities ready to go in one box for your little ones to enjoy.

Have you checked out Mango yet? No, it’s not a fruit! This is a new and free language app YCL has partnered with. You can learn Cherokee or Potawatomi from the comfort of your home using your computer or on the go with your smartphone.

Don’t see something you want to read in our catalog? You can suggest a book for our libraries to purchase under the “Books and More” tab on our Yolo County Library catalog.

TAGS: Language, Indigenous, Native American, Dual Language Learning

Comments are closed.