Native American Languages
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Native Languages of the Americas:
Mesquakie-Sauk (Sac and Fox)
Language: Mesquakie-Sauk is an Algonquian
language spoken by about 800 Indians, mostly Fox, in the American Midwest. The two dialects, Mesquakie (spoken by
the Meskwaki, or Fox) and Sauk (spoken by the Asakiwaki, or Sac), are mutually intelligible.
is considered by some linguists to be another dialect of Mesquakie-Sauk, but though Kickapoo is certainly a closely related language,
Meskwaki and Sauk speakers cannot readily understand it. Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo are
all polysynthetic languages with complex verb structures and fairly free word order, but unlike Kickapoo, Meskwaki-Sauk is not a
tone language. Mesquakie-Sauk is a seriously
endangered language today, due to most of its speakers being older and the Sac and Fox communities being so far-flung. Some teachers
are trying to revitalize the language,
particularly the Meskwaki dialect, before it is too late.
People: The Fox and Sac have been such closely associated allies that they are usually considered as a
single tribe. They originally lived in Michigan (Saginaw Bay is named for the Sauk tribe), but
multiple forced relocations left their descendants in Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma. There are
about 4500 Sac and Fox Indians today.
History: The Fox and Sauk Indians have gone down in history as "warlike" people because of the
Fox tribe's immediate hostility towards the French. This hostility was far from random, though--the
Huron, armed with French weapons, had just finished driving the Fox from their lands in
Michigan when the French themselves arrived, and the dispossessed Fox were not pleased with
the newcomers. Two Fox Wars ensued; the Fox Indians were no Iroquois Confederacy, though,
and could not hold their own against the larger and better-armed French. Usually the French were the least violent of
the European invaders, but on this occasion, they resolved to wipe out the conquered Fox Indians, and
pursued them across the country slaughtering any they could find. The only survivors were a
group of no more than 500 Fox people who were sheltered by their near relatives the Sauk, and, though
they had previously maintained good relations with the French, the Sauk tribe now found themselves
under assault as well. Luckily for the Fox and Sauk, the various Native Americans allied with the French
were starting to put more and more pressure on them to abandon their commitment to genocide,
and the French eventually gave in and made reluctant peace with the Sac and Fox tribes. After the
French departed North America, the Fox and Sauk Indians were relocated to Iowa, Kansas, and finally
Oklahoma; one group of Sauk, under the warrior Black Hawk, refused to leave and fought the pyrrhic
Black Hawk War, which ended with American soldiers wiping out the entire company as Black Hawk
brought them in for surrender. Another group, mostly Fox, returned to Iowa, where the state
government was willing to sell them land. This turned out to be good farmland, unlike anything
available in Oklahoma, and the Meskwaki tribe in Iowa is a prosperous one today. The rest of
the Fox and Sac Indians remained in Oklahoma, where they live together to this day.
Meskwaki-Sauk Language Resources
Sauk-Fox language samples, articles, and indexed links.
Sac and Fox Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Fox and Sauk tribes past and present.
Sac and Fox Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Fox and Sauk Indians, their language and culture.
Fox and Sauk Legends
Introduction to Sac and Fox Indian mythology.
Our Online Meskwaki Language Materials
List of vocabulary words in Mesquakie-Sauk, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Sac-Fox Pronunciation Guide:
How to pronounce Meskwaki-Sauk words.
Meskwaki-Sauk Animal Words:
Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Sac and Fox Body Parts:
Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Worksheet showing color words in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Worksheet showing how to count in Mesquakie-Sauk.
Meskwaki-Sauk Animate Nouns:
Lesson on Meskwaki-Sauk animate and inanimate nouns.
Lesson on the use of Meskwaki-Sauk possessive prefixes.
Meskwaki-Sauk Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources
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Fox-language dictionary for sale.
Let's All Talk Sauk:
Audio tape course in the Sauk language.
Mesquakie-language legends with English translation.
Native American Language Dictionaries:
Meskwaki-Sauk and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.
Meskwaki-Sauk Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions
Fox language sample
Mesquakie Language Mesquakie Phonology Fox Indian Texts:
Scanned-in Mesquakie Indian materials from the Rosetta Project.
House of Languages: Sauk-Fox-Kickapoo:
Information about Kickapoo, Fox and Sauk language usage.
Demographic information about Fox-Sauk from the Ethnologue of Languages
Sauk-Fox Language Tree:
Theories about Mesquakie-Sauk's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Fox Language Structures:
Sac and Fox linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
Meskwaki-Sauk Proper Nouns
Fox and Sac Placenames:
American place names in the Fox and Sac language
Fox and Sac Placenames:
American place names in Ojibwe, Algonquin, Menominee, and Meskwaki-Sauk.
Indian Animal Names:
Our new fundraiser offering names for dogs and horses in Native American languages (including Meskwaki-Sauk).
Additional Resources, Links, and References
La Lengua Sauk Fox:
Article on the Meskwaki-Sauk language in Spanish. With a language map.
Sac and Fox links.
Sac and Fox Tribe:
Sac and Fox Indian books.
Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 Contacts and FAQ page
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