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Mi-Wuk Word of the Day: Honon

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year full of surprises, new memories, great friends, and new wisdom!

I said I would be posting my research paper as my next post, but it seems to be hidden in my mom's computer, so we'll just have to wait for that...

Instead, I'll share something new with you. I'm fascinated by world cultures, which makes sense since I want to be an anthropologist. I am particularly interested in historic Native American culture. I love ethnobotany (plant uses in different cultures) and learning about traditions, spiritual beliefs, and language.
A replica tipi in the Pinecrest interpretive Mi-Wuk village, across from the ranger station. (Photo taken by me)

My best friend Alexys grew up around the Mi-Wuk tribe of Tuolumne City in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though she is Cherokee and Choctaw, her family ended up living by the Mi-Wuk Reservation. Her grandparents had traveled to California sometime after being relocated to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.She can speak and understand the Southern Sierra Mi-Wuk language, so this weekend when we were up at my family's cabin near Pinecrest, she taught me some words. I hope to learn more so I can begin to understand how the language works. It's very different from English and Spanish (I'm not fluent in Spanish but understand the way the language works and can hold a simple conversation.), and there are hand signals that go along with the words. At this point, I'm just learning common words and phrases.

The first word that I memorized is honon, which means bear. Mi-Wuk is not entirely a written language, so I write the words phonetically or based on how Alexys says they should be written. Phonetically, honon is "hoe-no-n."I'm making a picture book with the words I've learned. It is helping me memorize them since I am a visual learner. I will try to post new words every other day or so. I love learning new languages! I am teaching my sister the words I learn, as well.

There are many different dialects of Mi-Wuk, and some consider them different enough to be different languages. Some of them have already become extinct. The ones that are still alive are only known by a few and spoken fluently or commonly by even fewer. It's fascinating to learn a language that is so specific to the region where it originated. There are only words for things that the Native Americans in the area would have encountered, like mountain, bear, tree, different plants, etc. There are no words for shopping mall or car, and no word exists in the language for hate.

I'm so excited to be learning it, and hopefully I can pass along some new words to you to help the language spread, even if just a little.

Have a nice day, and I hope you don't encounter honon on any hikes or walks anytime soon!
Green Gal


Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes


  1. My compliment for your blog and pictures included,I encourage you to photoblog


    Even week another photo album

    Greetings from Italy,


  2. Great post. You're always teaching us new things about our world.


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