In August of 2006 I posted a blog entry with passing reference to the "Battle of Bloody Island," in which Captain Nathaniel Lyon's 1st Dragoons killed perhaps as many as 200 Pomo Indians near Clear Lake, in northern California. The Pomo's endured, but haven't fared well in modern times as a casino-less tribe living adjacent to a Superfund toxic cleanup site.
About a week ago, the local Sunday paper reported that Elem Pomo, an 8,000-year-old dialect spoken by many of the people slaughtered at Bloody Island, is now spoken fluently by only one person, 59-year-old Loretta Kelsey. It is another vestige of the past, already obscure, moving closer to the brink of oblivion. Unlike so many lost tongues, however, this one survives on reel-to-reel tapes at UC Berkeley, and you can hear some examples from Loretta Kelsey herself on this podcast.