Founded in 2002, the Native American Languages collection at the Sam Noble Museum provides invaluable resources to researchers, educators and students. The collection includes audio and video recordings, manuscripts, books, journals, ephemera and teaching curricula, including lesson plans, from more than 175 Native North American languages. This collection is intended to be a resource center where scholars and community members develop mutually beneficial relationships by preserving language resources, conducting research, providing services to Native American communities and educating the community about the importance of Native American culture.
Materials have been donated to the collection from a variety of individuals and groups, including tribal members and families, linguists and anthropologists, community language projects, teachers and students and other archives. Through outreach programs like the Breath of Life workshop and the annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, the collection also fosters public education opportunities so that visitors can develop an awareness, appreciation and understanding of Native American languages.
The collection and activities sponsored by the department are aimed to preserve valuable linguistic resources, support language retention and revitalization, celebrate linguistic diversity and further the intellectual heritage of these languages.