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Native Languages of the Americas: Menominee

Language: The Algonquian language Menominee (or Menomini) is today spoken by only a few tribal elders in Wisconsin, though some younger Menominees hope to revive the language. Menominee is a polysynthetic language with complex verbs and fairly free word order.

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People: The Menominee Indians called themselves Mamaceqtaw, but their Algonquian relatives called them Menomini, "wild-rice people," and the name stuck. Original inhabitants of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, the Menominee people were traditional enemies of the Fox (Mesquakie). Around 7000 Menominee Indians live in Wisconsin today.

History: The Menominee tribe was the victim of immigration pressure before Europeans ever reached the Americas. Of all the surviving Native American peoples in Wisconsin, the Menominee and the Winnebago are the only ones who claim to be original to that area: the Fox and Sauk, Dakota, Illinois, and Cheyenne migrated from elsewhere, and the Menominee Indians, never a large tribe, couldn't do much to stop it. After European contact, things became worse--population pressures increased as the Ojibwe and Huron tribes were forced into Wisconsin by European and Iroquoian expansion. Then the white settlers themselves arrived. Most small Algonquian tribes of Wisconsin were wiped out by the fighting and epidemics of that era, but not the Menominee tribe. Due to a combination of good fortune and political adroitness, the Menominee managed to maintain friendly relations with the powerful Dakota and Ojibwe even as those two nations fought each other. The near-annihilation of the Winnebagos, tragic though it was, provided relief for the overcrowded region, and the Menominee tribe was able to claim some of that land. Later attempts by the Americans to relocate the Menominee to Minnesota were successfully fended off by Menominee Chief Oshkosh, and the tribe's pioneering work in sustainable forest management under his guidance was so effective that the US government actually terminated their status as an Indian Nation in 1961, declaring Menominee lands no longer in need of protection. The results of this termination were disastrous, and the US reversed policy 12 years later.

Menominee Language Resources
Menominee language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Menominee Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Menominee Indians past and present.

Menominee Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Menominees, their language and culture.

Menominee Legends
Introduction to Menominee Indian mythology.

Menominee Language Resources

Our Online Menominee Language Materials

Menominee Vocabulary:
    List of Menominee vocabulary words, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Menominee Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animals in the Menominee language.

Menominee Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources

Menominee Bibliography:
    Thorough bibliography of Menominee linguistics.
NAES College * St. Norbert College:
    Two colleges offering Menominee language courses.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Native American Language Project:
    Ojibwa, Winnebago, Oneida, and Menominee language archives.
American Indian Dictionaries:
    Menominee and other Native American dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Menominee Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Menominee Indian Language:
    Menominee pronunciation, phrasebook, names, and months of the year.
    Menominee orthography and text example.
Wikipedia: Menominee:
    Encyclopedia articles about the Menominee language.
The Imposition of Standards:
    Article on standard and free variation, beginning with sociolinguistic information about Menomini.
The Menominee Language in Comparison to English:
    Linguistic features of Menominee, Ojibwe, and English, in the context of the Menominee treaty.
Menominee Language Tree:
    Theories about Menominee's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Menomini Language Structures:
    Menomini linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Literature and Texts in the Menominee Language

Menominee Prayers * Language Museum: Menomini:
    The Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary in Menominee.

Menominee Language Preservation and Usage

House of Languages: Menomini:
     Information about Menomini language usage.
Menomini * Ethnologue: Menomini:
    Demographic information about the Menomini language, with sound files and a map.

Menominee Proper Names

Menominee Place Names:
    American placenames in Ojibwe, Algonquin, Meskwaki, and Menominee.
Native American Animal Names:
    Our new fundraiser offering names for dogs and horses in Native American languages (including Menominee).

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  La Lengua Menominee:
  Article on the Menominee language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Menominee Language:
  Menominee links.
  Menominee Tribe:
  Menominee Indian books.

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