Published on January 29, 2013 by Amy
Doris Jean Lamar McLemore (born April 16, 1927) is the last fluent speaker of the Wichita language, a Caddoan language spoken by the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, indigenous to Oklahoma.
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McLemore was born in 1927 in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Her mother was Wichita and her father was European-American. McLemore was raised by her fullblood Wichita maternal grandparents, and Wichita was her first language.
McLemore graduated from Indian boarding school in 1947 and spent 30 years working as house mother there. She married twice and had a son and two daughters. In 1959 McLemore moved back to live near Gracemont, Oklahoma to live among her relatives. In 1962, McLemore met David Rood, a linguist from the University of Colorado, and they have collaborated to preserve the Wichita language ever since then.
McLemore teaches language classes for the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and is collaborating with linguist David Rood to create a dictionary and language CDs.
“Doris is amazing for being able to retain as much as she does without having anyone to speak it to on a daily basis,” says former Wichita tribal chairman, Gary McAdams.