The Wintu language was traditionally spoken at the upper end of the Sacramento Valley, north of Cottonwood Creek, on the upper Sacramento River and its tributaries to the north, and on the upper Trinity River to the west. In pre-contact times, there were 12,500 speakers of Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu together (Kroeber 1932). Today, there are no first-language speakers (Golla 2011).
Wintu is a Wintuan language; the other Wintuan languages are Nomlaki and Patwin. Together, these languages form one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family. This groups also includes Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Miwokan languages (Central Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Southern Sierra Miwok), the Ohlone languages (Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen), and the Yokuts languages.
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Pitkin, Harvey. 1984. Wintu grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Pitkin, Harvey. 1985. Wintu dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Schlichter, Alice. 1981. Wintu dictionary. (Survey Reports, Reports 2.) Berkeley: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, University of California, Berkeley. [PDF]
- Shepherd, Alice. 1989. Wintu texts. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Shepherd, Alice. 1997. In my own words: The stories, songs, and memories of Grace McKibben, Wintu. Berkeley: Heyday Books.