The last lifelong speaker of the Klallam Language passed away on February 4th, 2014.
Hazel M. Sampson, a resident of the Jamestown Tribe on the Northern Olympic Peninsula died at the age of 103. While her passing is a sad day for her family, friends and the community, it is also a huge loss to yet another native language.
Hazel M. Sampson was the last speaker of the Klallam language who had spoken it since she learned to talk. Born in 1910, Hazel was the great-granddaughter of Lord James Balch, the founder of the modern Jamestown Tribe.
With the loss of a native speaker to the Klallam language, the likelihood of the language and culture being lost has greatly increased. While many youth in the region are learning Klallam as a second language, the loss of the last lifelong speaker of the language is a recurring theme for nearly all of the original native languages. The languages and culture of nearly all tribes across the country was systematically destroyed by settlers and the long lasting Americanization Policy adopted by the United States Government.
Luckily, during her long and amazing life, Hazel M Sampson worked with linguists to preserve her language for future generations. Because of the work of Hazel, her husband Ed (of 75 years) and numerous other tribal members, the S’Klallam were able to teach the younger generation the language. Booklets, as well as dictionaries were created and distribute through the community in hopes to teach the youth the language of the S’Klallam.
While we here at Exotic Hikes did not have the honor of meeting Hazel during her great life, we have heard stories and know of the impact that this wise woman has had on the entire Olympic Peninsula. We offer our condolences to her family and the S’Klallam people.
For more information on the S’Klallam Tribe:
Curious about the languages of the Olympic Peninsula?
Please read the following: http://exotichikes.com/the-original-6-languages-of-the-olympic-peninsula/