Lake Miwok

The traditional Lake Miwok language area is to the southeast of Clear Lake, on Cache Creek to the south of Lower Lake, in Coyote Valley on upper Putah Creek, and in Pope Valley. In pre-contact times, there were 400-500 speakers of Lake Miwok (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are only a few speakers (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation. Lake Miwok is a Miwokan language; the others members of this family are Central Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Southern Sierra Miwok. 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

  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1963. A grammar of the Lake Miwok Language. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. [PDF]
  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1965. Lake Miwok dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1977. Coyote the impostor (Lake Miwok). In Victor Golla and Shirley Silver, eds. Northern Californian texts, pp. 10-16. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1978. Fire, flood, and creation (Lake Miwok). In William Bright, ed. Coyote stories, pp. 62-86. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Callaghan, Catherine A. 1980. Coyote’s knee rock (Lake Miwok). In Martha B. Kendall, ed. Coyote stories II, pp. 81-87. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Freeland, L. S. 1947. Western Miwok texts with linguistic sketch. International Journal of American Linguistics 13: 31-46.
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.