reuters:

The last known native speaker of the Klallam language, which the U.S. government once sought to phase out before funding an effort to preserve it, died in Washington state on Tuesday at age 103, friends and tribal leaders said.

The death of Hazel Sampson, who was taught the Klallam language by her parents before learning English, marks the end of an era, said Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Sampson died at a hospital in Port Angeles, Washington.

Klallam belongs to the Salish family of Native American languages, spoken in the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada.

"It’s the final chapter of one of our tribal citizens who grew up in the culture before we were exposed extensively to the non-Indian culture and language," Allen said. "We lost an elder who kept the culture and language of the S’Klallam people fresh in the younger generation."

Read more: http://reut.rs/1iz9ni7

Language is essential to culture so it is no surprise that the U.S. government sought to eradicate (“phase out”?) the Klallam language, in addition to many other indigenous languages and peoples. Amazing how the language of a nation dies with a single individual.

"The ironic life is certainly a provisional answer to the problems of too much comfort, too much history and too many choices, but it is my firm conviction that this mode of living is not viable and conceals within it many social and political risks. For such a large segment of the population to forfeit its civic voice through the pattern of negation I’ve described is to siphon energy from the cultural reserves of the community at large."

— Posted without irony. But now it feels like that was an ironic statement. I sincerely like this article. Sincerely. Eh, you can’t win.

(Source: The New York Times)

"It was a breakthrough (hardwon, late in coming) when I realized that there is really no difference between high and low speech - they both “indicate,” they both scan, they both give off energy when read. So that was a great thing, to suddenly be able to consider ALL language as possible candidates for what we might call “poetic elevation” - that process of compression/exclusion that takes a diction and kicks it up into (hopefully) a kind of super-expressive purity…."

— From Gchatting with George Saunders.