The traditional Kitanemuk language area is near Tehachapi Pass and in the western Mojave Desert. In pre-contact times, there were approximately 500 to 1,000 speakers (Blackburn and Bean 1978). In the 21st century, there are no first-language speakers (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation work (Tejon Indian Tribe).
Kitanemuk is a member of the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Takic, it is related to Cahuilla, Cupeño, Gabrielino, Juaneño, Luiseño, Serrano, and Tataviam. The other Uto-Aztecan languages of California are Tubatulabal and the Numic languages (Chemehuevi-Southern Paiute-Ute, Comanche, Kawaiisu, Mono, Northern Paiute, Panamint, and Shoshone).
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
Selected materials in other archives
- Anderton, Alice. 1988. The language of the Kitanemuks of California. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Blackburn, Thomas C. and Bean, Lowell John. 1978. Kitanemuk. In Robert F. Heizer (ed.), California, pp. 564-569. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Hill, Jane H and Hill, Kenneth C. 2019. Comparative Takic Grammar. UC Berkeley Survey Reports, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages. [PDF]
- Sutton, Mark Q. 1980. Some Aspects of Kitanemuk Prehistory. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, 2:214-225. [PDF and corrections]