The Plains Miwok language was spoken on the eastern side of the Sacramento River from near Sacramento in the north to Rio Vista in the south and eastward to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. 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). Today, there are no first-language speakers of Plains Miwok (Golla 2011).
Plains Miwok is a Miwokan language; the others members of this family are Central Sierra Miwok, Lake 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
- Bennyhoff, James Allan. 1961. The ethnogeography of the Plains Miwok. Davis, CA: Center for Archeological Research at Davis.
- Callaghan, Catherine A. 1984. Plains Miwok dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.