Central Sierra Miwok

The traditional Central Sierra Miwok area is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada along the Stanislaus and Tuolomne Rivers. In pre-contact times, there were an estimated 19,500 speakers of Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Central, Northern, and Southern Sierra Miwok together (Levy 1978). In the 21st century, Central Sierra Miwok has only a few speakers (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation. Central Sierra Miwok is a Miwokan language, most closely related to Northern Sierra Miwok and Southern Sierra Miwok. The others members of this family are Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Plains Miwok, and Saclan. The Miwokan languages comprise one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family, within which they form a subgroup with the Ohlone languages (Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen). Penutian includes, in addition, Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Wintuan languages (Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu), and the Yokuts languages.

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Selected materials in other archives

Further reading

  • Berman, Howard, ed. 1982. Freeland’s Central Sierra Miwok myths. (Survey Reports, Report 3.) Berkeley: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, University of California, Berkeley. [PDF]
  • Freeland, L. S. 1951. Language of the Sierra Miwok. (Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics, Memoir 6.) Bloomington, ID: Indiana University Press.
  • Freeland, L. S. and Sylvia M. Broadbent. 1960. Central Sierra Miwok dictionary with texts. Berkeley: University of California Press. [Online version]
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Levy, Richard. 1978. Eastern Miwok. In Robert F. Heizer (ed.), California, 398-413. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.