Mvskoke (also known as Muscogee or Creek) is a Muskogean language primarily spoken on modern Mvskoke tribal lands in Oklahoma and in Florida, although the original homelands are in what now comprises parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Many Mvskoke fled from Alabama into northern Florida in the late 1700s and the early 1800s to escape the federal government's removal policies. The majority of the remaining Mvskoke in the Southeast were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma following the 1830 Indian Removal Act. Unfortunately, as is the case with many Indigenous North American languages, due to continued external political and cultural suppression, the Mvskoke tribe is in danger of losing the last native speakers of their language—and with them, a key aspect of their collective cultural heritage.
Mvskoke activists have come together with renewed energy to help pass their language to a new generation of speakers. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made their work more urgent. Today, there are around 4,500 speakers of the Mvskoke language, with an estimated 200 speakers in Florida, where language activist Julia Mainzinger is based. Since 2015, community members have been working to collect interviews in Mvskoke. To ensure her language's future, Julia prioritizes expanding this past work: she and her team are launching an online guide to learning Mvskoke, designed to improve language proficiency in a new generation while enhancing intergenerational cultural transmission.
Julia's BackgroundJulia is a member of the Muscogee Nation and a software developer. She is passionate about using technology to help speakers of endangered languages interact with the digital world. A world traveler, she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and received her Masters of Computer Science at Sichuan University in China. She now partners with the Muscogee Language Foundation to build tech tools for the education and preservation of the Mvskoke language.