Welcome to the language page for the Brothertown Indian Nation. Below you will find:
- A brief history of our tribal languages.
- Some sample text of Mohegan and Narragansett.
- Links to additional resources for learning both the languages.
Before we were Brothertown, we were many nations, with different languages and cultural traditions. Below is a list of our parent tribes and the languages they spoke prior to colonization, along with the current status of each language.
As you can see, most of our parent tribes spoke Mohegan-Pequot, although there were at least two distinct dialects of the language, and probably more. All these languages are technically classified as extinct because there are no fluent speakers of the languages left.
Mohegan-Pequot, Narragansett, and Quiripi are all part of the Eastern Algonquian language sub-family, meaning that the languages share many similarities. They are among 17 languages spoken by Indigenous peoples along the Atlantic coast from what is now Canada to what is now North Carolina. Some other languages in this sub-family include Nanticoke, Powhatan, Wampanoag, Abenaki, and Mi’kmaq. Specifically, though, all three languages spoken by our parent tribes make up the Southern New England subgroup of Eastern Algonquian, along with Massachusett/Wampanoag and Loup. It’s possible, though unproven, that all these languages have their origin with the Lenape (Delaware) people. Here is a visual representation of the language family:
- Algic: All Indigenous North American Languages
- Algonquian: (includes all Algonquian speaker across North America, like Ojibwe, Cree, and Blackfoot
- Eastern Algonquian: All East Coast Algonquian languages
- Southern New England
- Wampanoag (New Massachusett)
- Delaware (Lenape)
Mohegan Language pdf’s for download:
As our ancestors acclimated to colonial life, they began to speak English as both a common language and as a way to be more acceptable to the rapidly growing European population. Of course, residential boarding schools also caused many Indigenous children to give up their languages, often under threats of violence. Thankfully, today there are many people trying to revitalize the Mohegan-Pequot language, including Stephanie Fielding (Fidelia’s great-great-great niece), who has compiled and published A Modern Mohegan Dictionary (searchable database linked below). One of Stephanie Fielding’s primary resources used to reconstruct the language was Fidelia Fielding’s diary. Linked below are some examples of how Fielding diary was translated into modern Mohegan.
NOTE: All examples are taken from Introduction to the Narragansett Language and The Mohegan Language Phrase Book & Dictionary, all linked below.
|Tôn kutusuwis?||Tocketussawêitch||What is your name? (How are you called)|
|Rebecca nuwisuwôk||Ntússawese Rebecca||My name is Rebecca|
|Tôn kutaya?||As kuttaaquompsìn?||How are you?|
|Nukôkicá||As npaumpmaúntam||I am well / I am in good health|
|Kuwômôyush||Cowàmmaunsh||I love you|
|Táput ni / Kutápatamush||Taûbotne anawàyean||I thank you|
|Nuwikôtam||Nowétipo||I like this/it|
- Fidelia Fielding Diary Translation Excerpt
- Mohegan-English Dictionary
- Mohegan Language Phrase Book Download
- Mohegan-Pequot Language Learning Website
- YouTube Language Lessons
- The Mohegan Language Project website (note: this is an archived version some links may no longer function)
- Grammatical Studies in the Narragansett Language
- A short list of Narragansett words
- A comparative chart of Algonquian words
- Omniglot’s Narragansett resources
- Introduction to the Narragansett Language