Chulym, spoken in Russia, is one of the smallest and most endangered languages native to Siberia. It has fewer than 25 speakers, all elderly.
Chulym is a Turkic language, but not closely related to Turkish. The Chulym people, who call themselves and their language Ös, are traditional hunter-gatherers and fishermen. They live in small rural villages deep in central Siberia.
Vasya Gabov lives in Tegul'det, a village in Southwest Siberia, with his wife and three children. He is one of the last remaining speakers of the Chulym language, and at 56, the youngest.
Vasya works as a truck driver. He carries on the customs of his ancestors by drying fish, carving boats, and making fur-covered skis to navigate the harsh Siberian winters.
Sora belongs to the Munda language family, the oldest of east-central India. The Sora language has a complicated grammar, in particular its verb system. A Sora verb can effectively compact an entire sentence into just a single word.
The main concentration of Sora speakers, estimated between 150,000 and 300,000, are located in Orissa State in the east of India. In some areas, the younger generations no longer speak Sora.
With no official support, the long-term prospects for the survival of the Sora language are not good.
Oranchu Gomango is a respected leader and activist among the Sora people residing in the Gumma Hills Block, Gajapati District, Orissa State, India. He is in his early 50s and has three sons, ranging in age between 14 and 22.
In addition to his native Sora language, Mr. Gomango is fluent in English, Oriya, and Telugu. He works as a coordinator of social services for Sora villages in the Gumma Hills Block.
Kallawaya, spoken in Bolivia, is not a language learned by children. It is taught only to teenagers or young adults, primarily male, as part of their initiation into the practice of traditional herbalist medicine. The Kallawaya once served as healers to the Inca emperor, and wandered the length and breadth of South America in search of curative plants. The language is not only a ritual language for the healers, but also used in everyday conversation.
Kallawaya is estimated to have fewer than 100 speakers.
Max Chura Mamani is one of the most highly respected of the traditional Bolivian healers known as the Kallawaya. A resident of the small Bolivian hamlet of Chary, his curing talents are widely regarded in La Paz and other highland urban centers.
Max is a fluent user of the Kallawaya language, in addition to Bolivian Spanish and the local variety of Quechua, the largest indigenous language of the Andes. He has two daughters and no sons.
Chemehuevi is part of the Numic branch of the Southern Paiute languages. There are 3-5 fluent speakers living on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in western Arizona. There are a number of semi-fluent speakers as well in the Chemehuevi Valley, a reservation community on the California side of the Colorado River. Efforts to document Chemehuevi are underway and are designed to support language revitalization goals for the community.
Johnny Hill, Jr., is one of the last remaining speakers of the Chemehuevi language. At 53, he is also the youngest.
Johnny lives on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in western Arizona with his wife and three stepchildren. He works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, doing maintenance work on highways and canals, and also farms alfalfa.
In his spare time, Johnny records himself speaking his language so that future generations of Chemehuevi can hear what it sounds like.Close