Native Village
Youth and Education news
November 1, 2010, Volume 1

One of the last remaining to speak Oneida language dies at 100
Condensed by Native Village
Wisconsin: Loretta Webster, one of the last people to learn Oneida as a first language, has passed away. She was 100 years old.

In 1996, Lorretta began working with the Oneida Language Revitalization Program. At the time, only 25-30 elders were fluent in Oneida.

"She never stopped using her language,"
said Inez Thomas from the Oneida Cultural Heritage Center. "She never quit."

Webster's passion for her people and culture was passed on to the younger generations.  "She looked forward to it," said Carol Cornelius, a language archivist for the tribe.  "She was eager to teach."
Along with other elders, Loretta helped Cornelius archive Oneida stories, word lists, and ceremonies for the tribe.  The elders met regularly for 10 years ago and patiently helped her understand each phrase and term.

Evie Anderson, Webster's  granddaughter, remembered her own Oneida language lessons. She said her grandmother was proud of the family's Oneida heritage.

"She's all about preserving the traditions," Anderson said. "It's who she is."
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