Arkansas prof works to save endangered Indian language

Conway, Arkansas (AP) December 2010

A linguistics professor at the University of Central Arkansas is working to help save the endangered language of an American Indian tribe.

Professor Tim Thornes has spent 16 years trying to help save the Northern Paiute, a language spoken by members of the Burns Paiute tribe. About 4,000 members of the tribe live mostly in northern Nevada and eastern Oregon.

Thornes, who used to live in Oregon, tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that only about 300 speak Northern Paiute and most of them are older than 50.

Last summer, Thornes returned to Oregon for six weeks to teach at the University of Oregon and help the tribe with its efforts to preserve the language. He worked with tribal elders to tape about 150 to 200 hours of recordings of oral literature.