Verdena Parker is the last living speaker of the Hupa language. She lives in Winston, Oregon.

Verdena Parker is the last living speaker of the Hupa language. She lives in Winston, Oregon.

Dave Blanchard / OPB

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"I'm probably the only one know a lot of things — the old language and things — and so it kind of bothers me… nobody uses it anymore."
 
Verdena Parker recorded herself saying that about ten years ago.  She was the last of a kind — the only known fluent speaker of Hupa, the Athabascan language of the Hupa tribe.
 
"And so even I don't use a lot of these words any more. I kind of talk to [my daughter] once in a while, but she usually listens but then she don't say nothing back because she don't speak the language."
 
Parker has lived in Winston, Oregon since 1970. It's a small town in rural Douglas County. But she grew up in the community of Hoopa, in Northern California. And even as child, she was the only member of her generation who regularly spoke her native language. Her friends and cousins spoke English while she listened to her elders' stories.

We spoke with Parker in May. The interview was a part of our At Home series.

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  • Verdena Parker: Last known fully fluent speaker of the Hupa language
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