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Documenting Conversations in Tsuut’ina

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Language Tsuut’ina
Depositor Christopher Cox
Affiliation Carleton University
Location Canada
Collection ID 0554
Grant ID MDP0388
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This project documents conversations in Tsuut’ina (ISO 639-3:srs), a Dene language spoken by members of the Tsuut’ina Nation in southern Alberta, Canada. The collection comprises eight hours of annotated audiovisual recordings of spontaneous conversations between first-language speakers of Tsuut’ina, and was developed by Bruce Starlight (Office of the Tsuut’ina Language Commissioner, Tsuut’ina Nation), Patrick Moore (University of British Columbia), and Christopher Cox (Carleton University).


Group represented

The Tsuut’ina Nation is a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the only Dene Nation to enter into Treaty 7 with the Government of Canada in 1877. Tsuut’ina Nation lands are located in southern Alberta, with the southwest corner of the city of Calgary immediately adjacent. More information about Tsuut’ina Nation history, culture, language, and community is available from the Tsuut’ina Nation (, the Tsuut’ina Nation Cultural Museum (, and the Tsuut’ina Gunaha Institute (


Language information

Tsuut’ina (srs) is a Dene language of southern Alberta, Canada. It is spoken by a single community, the Tsuut’ina Nation, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and a signatory to Treaty 7.

From a geographical and linguistic perspective, Tsuut’ina stands out among the Dene languages. Together with Plains Apache, it is one of only two Dene languages to be spoken on the Great Plains, and is separated from the remainder of the Dene language family by neighbouring Algonquian and Siouan language groups. While sometimes grouped together with the Northern Dene languages or assigned its own branch of the language family, the affiliation of Tsuut’ina to the rest of the Dene language family is uncertain (cf. Mithun 1999). Recent linguistic research points to lexical and phonological innovations shared only by Tsuut’ina and the Apachean Dene languages of the American Southwest (Leer 2005, Rice 2012: 260–261). However, community histories also refer to historical contact with both Apachean speech communities and with Sekani (sek) and Beaver (bea), thus connecting Tsuut’ina with the larger Beaver-Sekani-Kaska dialect continuum (Tsuut’ina Language Commissioner, p.c.).

As of December 2018, there are 29 first-language speakers of Tsuut’ina; almost all reside on the Tsuut’ina Nation (Tsuut’ina Language Commissioner, p.c.). Tsuut’ina is thus among the most critically endangered Indigenous languages spoken in Alberta today. Nevertheless, strong connections between Tsuut’ina language and community identity, traditional culture, and ceremonial practices have fostered equally strong retention of Tsuut’ina language proficiency among present-day speakers. These same connections have also encouraged community-based language documentation, education, and revitalization efforts to which this project will contribute. The conversations recorded here will provide valuable resources for research and education programs focused on interaction and conversational proficiency, complementing the considerable resources developed by both Tsuut’ina Elders and researchers and non-Tsuut’ina researchers such as Pliny Earle Goddard (Goddard 1915), Edward Sapir (e.g., Sapir 1922, 1925), and E. D. Cook (e.g., Cook 1984).


Collection contents

The majority of the bundles in this collection are audiovisual recordings, and include both uncompressed (WAV) audio and compressed 4K UHD (MP4) video tracks. This collection comprises approximately eight hours of spontaneous conversation in Tsuut’ina, with each conversation session involving 2–3 first-language speakers. Transcriptions, translations, and oral annotations of these materials will continue to be added to this collection as they are prepared.


Other information

Intellectual property rights to Indigenous language remain the property of individual speakers of Tsuut’ina and the Tsuut’ina Nation. Individuals grant only the use of their recorded language materials in websites, archives, and publications as specified in their letters of consent. There will be no royalties derived by this project from Indigenous language resources since the intellectual property rights remain with individuals and the Tsuut’ina Nation.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of this collection should acknowledge by name the individual Tsuut’ina speakers whose contributions are represented in these materials. Any other individuals who have contributed to this project should similarly be acknowledged by name. Users should also acknowledge Bruce Starlight, Patrick Moore, and Christopher Cox as the principal researchers, and the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of this project.

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Starlight, Bruce, Patrick Moore & Christopher Cox. 2018. Documenting conversations in Tsuut’ina. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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