The traditional Washo language area is around Lake Tahoe, from Honey Lake in the north to Antelope Valley in the south. In pre-contact times, there were probably no more than 1,500 speakers (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are fewer than 50 fluent speakers (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation (Keliiaa 2012).
Washo (also written "Wá·šiw" and "Washoe") is an isolate within the hypothesized Hokan language family. This additionally includes Chimariko, Esselen, Karuk, the Palaihnihan languages (Achumawi and Atsugewi), the Pomoan languages (Central Pomo, Eastern Pomo, Kashaya, Northeastern Pomo, Northern Pomo, Southeastern Pomo, and Southern Pomo), Salinan, the Shastan languages (Konomihu, New River Shasta, Okwanuchu, and Shasta), Yana, and the Yuman languages (Cocopa, Kiliwa, Kumeyaay, Maricopa, Mojave, Pai, Paipai, and Quechan).
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
Selected materials in other archives
- Dangberg, Grace. 1927. Washo texts. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 22:391-443. [PDF]
- Dangberg, Grace. 1968. Washo tales: Three original Washo Indian legends. (Nevada State Museum Occasional Papers, Volume 1.) Carson City, NV: Nevada State Museum.
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Jacobsen, William H. 1964. A grammar of the Washo language. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. [PDF]
- Jacobsen, William H. 1996. Beginning Washo. (Nevada State Museum Occasional Papers, Volume 5.) Carson, NV: Nevada State Museum.
- Kroeber, Alfred L. 1907. The Washo language of east central California and Nevada. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 4:251-317. [PDF]
- Lowie, Robert H. 1939. Ethnographic Notes on the Washo. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 36:301-352. [PDF]
- Lowie, Robert H. 1963. Washo Texts. Anthropological Linguistics, 5:1-30. [PDF]