Oklahoma has about 40 American Indian languages and 11 language families, which can be as different as English is from Chinese, Linn said. She said all of those languages are endangered. Many younger generations have shifted to speaking English, Linn said.
During the workshop, linguists train participants how to use research materials and find resources.
Linn hopes the program will help tribes and linguists develop lasting partnerships. Eventually, she would like the program to become self-supporting.
Eight people from three tribes — Natchez, Osage and Otoe-Missouria — participated in the first workshop. Linn hopes more will attend next year.
Hopper, 28, is the youth leadership director for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. A big part of the tribe's culture is language, Hopper said. Yet many people, aside from a few elders, don't know the language.
Hopper knew a few words before attending the 2010 workshop. Now he posts words around his home for his own children, ages 7 and 2, to see. He also incorporates language into youth programs he organizes.
“If we don't get the youth involved now, then it will be gone forever,” Hopper said.
For more information about the Oklahoma Breath of Life program, contact Linn at mslinn@