University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

Search the Collections

Visit a Collection

About the The Wisconsin Oneida Language Preservation Project

About The Wisconsin Oneida Language Preservation Project

The Wisconsin Oneida Language Preservation Project presents original stories and curriculum, with accompanying audio that teaches the Wisconsin Oneida language. Materials presented here include Kindergarten through Grade Six curriculum, songs, and stories, and approximately 800 stories recorded as part of the 1930-40's Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. These resources are presented in both English and written Oneida language.

Audio files accompany these texts and provide additional instruction, allowing language learners to read and simultaneously listen to native Oneida speakers present the same material.


  • Songs
  • K-6 Curriculum

    WPA Stories

    Kindergarten curriculum audio files are provided in streaming RealAudio format. RealPlayer or compatible software is required to play these files. Free RealPlayer software is available from for both Macintosh and Windows systems. First through sixth grade curriculum files and stories are presented in mp3 format, and will open in your browser's default audio player.

    Project Summary
    By UNESCO standards the language of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin is critically endangered, which means there is a real and present danger that the language will be irretrievably lost in the foreseeable future. At this point there remain only three native speakers of the Wisconsin dialect of Oneida. All of these elders are over 90 years old.

    This project proposes to provide video and audio documentation of Oneida conversational styles, something under documented in previous studies and to create a database for scholars and community members. The database and archive will include not only the documentation collected in this project, but also previous documentation that is threatened because of inadequate archiving. A collaborative approach will be used which combines notable linguistic expertise, institutional support, business and personnel management expertise, database expertise, along with native speaker and apprentice training. The goals of this project are thus twofold: to conduct field work to document conversational Oneida styles with the last three speakers who learned Oneida as their first language and are able to assist in this project; and to research and construct a database on which to preserve and archive the information from current, previous, and any future documentation efforts.

    The original materials were collected by fluent Oneida people interviewing fluent speaking Oneida people during the Works Progress Administration (1939-1940). From the WPA project a written alphabet was created and all materials were written in Oneida. During the 1970's with a grant from the Title VII Bilingual Act, the K-6 curriculum was developed, and the WPA documents were converted to a new alphabet and recorded.

    The Oneida language speakers who recorded the K-6 curriculum included on this site are: Amos Christjohn and Dick Christjohn. The female voice is Maria Hinton. Those sections that were missing the original recordings were recorded in 2009 by Randy Cornelius, the Oneida Language Archivist. The songs from the Kindergarten curriculum were recorded by Dellora Cornelius and Mercie Doxtater.

    The WPA stories were recorded in the 1970's by Maria Hinton, Hudson Doxtater, Mary Danforth, Amos Christjohn and Oscar Archiquette

    If we have forgotten anyone it is not intentional and we continue to appreciate and utilize the hard work of our ancestors.

    This project is funded by a National Science Foundation grant. The following individuals and entities contributed to the successful completion of this work: Oneida Cultural Heritage Department, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Dr. Cliff Abbot (UW Green-Bay) and the UW Digital Collections Center.

    Related materials