The Lipan Apache Language

Recreating a Bilingual Environment for the Lipan

Revitalization Plan

Revitalizing the Lipan Apache Language.

In this module we provide an outline for the plan to revitalize the Lipan Apache language.

Preface: The Lipan Apache language is considered to be extinct by most linguistic researchers and linguistic organizations, including Ethnologue, Multitree, LinguistList and UNESCO.  As we have seen in Other Revitalized Languages, languages can indeed be “brought back” from extinction, or in the preferred terminology, from dormancy.

 For links to the above websites and their discussion on the status of Lipan Apache, see below:

Ethnologue's definition and status of Lipan Apache
Multitree's status of Lipan Apache
Language and Location Maps status of Lipan Apache
Unesco definition and status of Lipan Apache

Purpose: To guide the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas in the task of restoring their once thriving language. This plan will be similar to Joshua Fishman's 8 stage model for reviving threatened or dead/dormant languages, and the stages below are directly from Fishman. However, at the moment we are only concerned with the first three of the eight stages in Fishman (1991), and as such, only those are listed.

Objective 1
. Acquisition of the language by adults, who in effect act as language apprentices.

This objective is currently in progress by the Language Preservation Committee of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. We are using the sister language, Jicarilla, as a general template to learn the general grammar and system of Southern Athabaskan.  In the words of Chief Bernard, “We need to learn to speak Apache, the Lipan details can come later.”

The LPC is using  the Jicarilla Language textbook from Multilingual Books, in order to achieve proficiency in Jicarilla.  Effectively, the LPC is becoming the group of, "language apprentices," as described by Fishman.  By becoming language apprentices, the members of the LPC will begin to be able to pass on the language to other members, effectively leading us to Objective 2.

If you are interested in the Jicarilla Language, you can purchase the textbook, or you can browse an on-line dictionary of the Jicarilla language.  Feel free to contact the Language Preservation Committee for more information.

Objective 2. Create a socially integrated population of active speakers of the language.

We will fulfill this objective by hosting small language groups and lessons at the quarterly meetings of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, as well as in small powwows and other gatherings as possible. In addition, we intend to create an on-line discussion forum on the website of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, which will provide opportunites for dissemination and practice of the language. In addition, stories will be sought out and, with permission, published both on this page and on the Lipan Apache Tribe website page, that will foster the use of the language, but which will also include cultural issues and personal histories.  The internet forum of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas will continue to be important in this objective.

Objective 3. Encourage the informal use of the language among people of all age groups and within families and bolster its daily use through the establishment of (local neighborhood) institutions in which the language is encouraged, protected and (in certain contexts) used exclusively.

By promoting basic interpersonal communicative skills, the Lipan Apache language will be able to spread from use only in a formal or academic setting into a day to day functional language, restoring Lipan Apache from a language found in textbooks, to a thriving and vital day to day language.


These are the current steps that the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas will be taking to move forward with the Language Revitalization process.  Please e-mail your thoughts to any member of the Language Preservation Committee, or to linguist at lipanapache dot org.


Fishman, Joshua (1991)  Reversing Language Shift : Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages.  Clevendon, Multilingual Matters.  (link) (find in a library)

Harrison, K. David (2007)  When Languages Die.  The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge.  Oxford University Press.  (link) (find in a library)

Hinton, Leanne (2002)  How to Keep Your Language Alive.  A Commonsense Approach to One-on-One Language Learning.  Heyday Books, Berkeley.  (link)  (find in a library)

Wilson, Alan and Martine, Rita (1996)  Apache.  Audio Forum.  Guilford CT.  (link) (find in a library)