Marie Desma Wilcox (November 24, 1933 – September 25, 2021) was a Native American who was the last native speaker of Wukchumni, a dialect of Tule-Kaweah, which is a Yokutsan indigenous language spoken by the Tule-Kaweah Yokuts of California. She worked for more than 20 years on a dictionary of the language and taught it.
|Died||September 25, 2021 (aged 87)|
Wilcox was born on a ranch in Visalia, California, the youngest of seven children of Beatrice Arancis and Alex Wilcox, a farm hand. She was raised by her grandparents in a one-room house in the Venice Hills and after completing eighth grade, she also became a farm hand and a fruit packer. With Joe Garcia, she had four daughters and a son. She lived in Woodlake, California and died in a hospital in Visalia after her aorta ruptured when she was leaving a grandson's birthday party.
Wilcox's grandmother spoke Wukchumni; after her death, Wilcox began working on a dictionary of the language as a tribute, with computer and other assistance from Nicholas Luna, an Apache. She included sound recordings of each word in the dictionary, and after the appearance in 2014 of a documentary on her work in the New York Times op-ed section, her family and other members of their tribe became interested in reviving the language. She and her daughter taught it; at her death Wilcox was teaching classes at the Owens Valley Career Development Center, which are to continue. The dictionary was copyrighted in 2019, but is unpublished. As of 2014, it was estimated that the Wukchumni tribe had fewer than 200 members. In the early 2010s, when a relative died, Wilcox became the last remaining fluent speaker; at her death, there were at least three, including one of her daughters.
- Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel (September 19, 2014). "Marie's Dictionary" (documentary video, 10 mins). Global Oneness Project. Archived from the original on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
- Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel (August 18, 2014). "Who Speaks Wukchumni?". The New York Times (op-ed video, 9 min, 18 sec). ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 10, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
- Seelye, Katharine Q (October 7, 2021). "Marie Wilcox, 87, an Elder Who Created a Dictionary To Save a Dying Language". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 6, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021. Also at Yahoo News Archived October 10, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, October 9, 2021.
- Kohlruss, Carmen (October 8, 2021). "Native elder saved her tribe's language. Her Tulare County family vows to 'keep it going'". Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on October 13, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
- "Marie Wilcox, who saved her tribe's language, dies". Associated Press. October 8, 2021. Archived from the original on October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
- Roston, Tom (April 20, 2018). "Keeping Native American languages alive: In 'Marie's Dictionary,' Wukchumni lives on". Salon. Archived from the original on October 5, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
- Heller, Chris (September 22, 2014). "Saving Wukchumni". The Atlantic (with video by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, 9 min, 35 sec). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2021.