Nineteenth- and early 20th-century written notes on spoken Native American languages are valuable in the effort to sustain and revive those languages after a long history of suppression and loss. Many of the notes have been transcribed by Smithsonian online volunteers through our Transcription Center and are now available for researchers. There is also movement to revive sign language that allowed tribes to communicate across hundreds of spoken languages. To sample recorded music from a wide range of Native American cultures past and present, visit Smithsonian Folkways records.
The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices program collaborates with contemporary Native communities to unearth cultural knowledge embedded in the texts held in museum collections.