Mohican was an Eastern Algonquian language that was spoken by the Mohican people in eastern New York state, around Albany, and also in Vermont, until about 1940. There are also Mohicans in Wisconsin, due to forced relocation in the 1820s and 1830s, and there were some Mohican communities in Canada.
The Mohican people are also known as Mahican. Their native name, Muhhekunneuw, comes from Muheconneok (from the waters that are never still), what they call the Hudson River. There are currently about 3,000 Mohicans in Shawano County, Wisconsin.
Mohican was documented by missionaries, linguists and others from the 18th century. A dictionary of Mohican was compiled by a Moravian missionary, Johann Schmick, in about 1755, and in the 20th century details of the language were collected from speakers in Wisconsin by linguists such as Morris Swadesh and Truman Michelson.
Mohican was closely related to the Delaware or Lenape languages, Munsee and Unami, which were historically spoken along the Delaware and Hudson rivers in the USA.
Kaaxeetunaʔ Maʔeekunew ninãapaw otineetaʔãan nook naʔ uneʔnmeewuk ndun cheʔtsisuk kaakway ãayãatumuk na ninãapaw aawaʔaat. Kneema opotuwãan, mxooksis cheenwaw, aawmãan aayke onumeʔãan mxooksisun kaataw chkithmãaneet. Kneʔãameen ni otãan ni staak ndun tupuk ni otinaʔaan. “Kaache njooth keeseʔãam chkithmã.” “Koonãakwxeen.”
Sot Quinney’s Owl Story, translated by William Dick, Aug. 4, 1914
A long time ago a Mohican (man) was thinking, these animals and birds want (to have) the things that that Native person uses. Then he heard him, the owl hooted, the old man had seen the owl who wanted to smoke. Then he went to the fire and threw the tobacco there. Now my friend, you are able to smoke. Good night.
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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