Historical origins of the language Algonquian language family At one time long ago our language and in fact people were one nation that over many hundreds of years broke apart and formed separate tribes. Today if you look at these tribes there are still similarities in our beliefs and traditions. Also there are some similarities in our languages especially the structure. Over the years our languages have continued to change so many words are much different today. These tribes which come from the algonquian language family are quite numerous and include shawnee, kickapoo, sac and fox, menomenee, abanaki, delaware, odawa, ojibwe, cree, blackfoot, cheyenne, miami, as well as other tribes on the east coast and even a few believed to be algonquian in origin as far away as california. Historical origins of our language The tribes which are closest to our own language are Ojibwe or chippewa, and Odawa or Ottawa. It is believed and we have stories that at one time the Potawatomi,Ojibwe and Odawa were one nation speaking a common language. In fact the similarities of our languages support this belief. Potawatomi historical origins continued The language comes from one of five major language families in the United states the Algonquian language families. Other languages from this family have similarities in vocabulary and structure. Some other languages from this group are Sac&Fox,Kickapoo,Ojibwe,Odawa,Menomi nee,Shawnee, but perhaps the closest is Odawa followed by Ojibwe Other influences There is also evidence that we had close relations with the sac and fox and kickapoo tribes after our intial split. Also there are words which are believed to have been borrowed from the french. Within the Citizen Potawatomi you still see many of those French names so this is definitely believable. Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Ojibwe Odawa Potawatomi anishinabe anishnabe nishnabe Often it is the difference of an extra vowel. The ojibwe call us vowel droppers. Sac and Fox word similarities Fox word Potawatomi word Meshkwi- red mskwa Mahkatêwi- black mkedewze Shâka- nine Shak Nekoti- one ngot Êsepana- raccoon espen Kickapoo similarities Kickapoo words Potawatomi words Aamoa- bee amo Ayaapeeha- buck yabe netooni – my mouth ndon- my mouth Words of possible French origin Bozho- hello Bonjour- hello Byan- come bya- verb to come in French A deeper understand of who we are as a people As you continue to learn our language you will have a unique window into the past. Through our language you will undoubtly learn a lot about our culture and what it meant and continues to mean to be Potawatomi. Our language is considered animate or alive because it is considered spiritual in nature. So the actual act of speaking the language is a spiritual act and will help connect you to your ancestors.
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