The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas

Alice Anderton (1949-2016)

SSILA mourns the loss of an important scholar and activist, Alice Anderton. Alice received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA in 1988, and her dissertation was entitled The language of the Kitanemuks of California. She published primarily on Uto-Aztecan languages (Kitanemuk, Comanche), but was active in advocacy for native languages in general, and Oklahoma languages in particular.

Alice’s dissertation is a synthesis of J. P. Harrington’s notes on the Takic (Uto-Aztecan) language Kitanemuk, formerly spoken north of Los Angeles. Working with Harrington’s often chaotic notes, Alice’s analysis includes a full grammar and dictionary which have proven to be a vital resource for recent language revitalization work by the Kitanemuk people.

Alice taught at Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, Cameron College, and the Red Earth Museum. She was the founder of the Intertribal Wordpath Society, a group which advocated for the preservation, teaching, and legal status of Oklahoma native languages. The Intertribal Wordpath Society was responsible for producing more than 200 episodes of a television series about native languages, which interviewed many elders and helped to raise awareness of linguistic rights in Oklahoma.

Alice was also instrumental in writing and lobbying for the Oklahoma Indian Language Heritage Protection Act, which countered a potential “English Only” law in the state by ensuring the legal status of native languages.

Alice was a rare combination of scholar, teacher, and activist, and she will be deeply missed by her friends and colleagues.

A full obituary can be found in The Daily Oklahoman.

Updated: January 20, 2016 — 7:42 am

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