Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Kickapoo is an Algonquian language closely related to Mesquakie-Sauk (some linguists even consider it a dialect of Mesquakie-Sauk). Kickapoo and Mesquakie-Sauk are both polysynthetic languages with complex verb morphology and fairly free word order. Unlike Mesquakie-Sauk, however, Kickapoo is a tone language--the high or low pitch of a vowel can change a Kickapoo word's meaning. Kickapoo is spoken in three distinct language areas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Mexico, by a combined 800 people. The language is most vigorous in Mexico, where some children are still learning it at home; in America Kickapoo is endangered, though revitalization efforts are ongoing. In the past, Kickapoo Indians also used a unique linguistic code called "whistle speech" to convey simple utterances, but today that is a lost art.