About the Dictionary

Dedicated to the Pohot family

Shown are Cecile and Mary along with two typical basket designs.
From Left to Right: Cecile Silva at her Santa Rosa Rancheria home with pieces of her own basket weaving work. Mary Friedrichs at her home. Wikchamni basket design examples of “Ant” and “Rattlesnake” patterns, respectively.

This dictionary began in 1969 with a request by Cecile Silva that I ‘write her history and language’ for her and the other Pohot sisters, Mary Friedrichs, Virginia Aguilar, and Susie Metcalf. She felt this was important because many of the younger folks showed little interest in learning and speaking their language and those that did were missing some of the subtleties that these sisters had learned from their parents Mary and Joe Pohot. She asked me to promise to make this information available to others and I agreed. Of course I didn’t realize it would take almost fifty years. Serious work on the project began in the summer of 1970 and continued over the following nine years. Cecile was the primary consultant with Mary and Virginia making valuable additions that can be seen and heard throughout this dictionary. Although all the sisters spoke English at home, Cecile, Mary and Virginia would carry out lengthy conversations in Wikchamni when they got together. Cecile took an active part in helping to preserve her language and culture as she patiently assisted me in the study of her language. Although these wonderful women have all passed away, the promise I made to Cecile in 1969 is now realized with this dictionary of the Wikchamni language.

Because of many special characteristics of the Wikchamni (also spelled “Wukchumni” by some) language spoken by these women, including alveolar (retroflex) consonants and partially rounded central vowels I have tried to include audio examples of as many words and example sentences as possible.

I have included information for Yawelmani and Chukchansi, two languages that are related to Wikchamni, wherever possible. The Yawelmani data comes from an unpublished lexicon that is derived from the work of Stanley Newman. The Chukchansi material comes from an unpublished list derived from the work of Sylvia Broadbent and from a Chukchansi Dictionary by Niken Adisasmito-Smith (2016). The first two sources are unmarked in the Wikchamni Dictionary and the latter source is marked as (NAS).

This work has been supported over the years by the Linguistics Department at California State University, Fresno, the Survey for California and Other Indian Languages at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution.

I want to thank the large number of people who have continued to provide encouragement to complete this project; and a particular thanks to Mr. W. Flores, a grand nephew of the Pohot sisters, who helped renew my commitment to see the work done before I get too old to remember.

—Dr. Geoffrey Gamble

To learn more, visit:


Compiled by ...

Language Consultants

  • Cecile Silva
  • Mary Friedrichs

With Assistance From ...

  • Virginia Aquilar
  • Susie Metcalf

We have also prepared a PDF guide to the dictionary for you to print. For more information, write Dr. Geoffrey Gamble at either ggamble@montana.edu or ggamble@mail.fresnostate.edu

Biography of Dr. Geoffrey Gamble

Dr. Geoffrey Gamble, who retired in 2009, currently is President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at Montana State University. From 2011 to 2014 he served in various roles at the University of North Texas including, Vice President for Strategy and Operations, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, and Senior Vice Provost.

Gamble became the 11th president of Montana State University in Januuary of 2000. Prior to Montana State, Gamble was Provost and Senior Vice President at the University of Vermont and served as chief academic and operating officer.

Prior to his service at the University of Vermont, Gamble was at Washington State University. During his tenure at WSU, Gamble served as interim Provost for one year, Vice Provost for five years, and held other administrative posts including Department Chair, Director of the Museum of Anthropology, and Director of Summer Session and was a faculty member teaching linguistics for over 20 years.

Gamble is the author of two books and a dozen articles on Native American languages and has presented numerous scholarly papers. He holds a B.A. in English from Fresno State College, an M.A. in Linguistics from California State University, Fresno and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley.

He and his family (including a horse, a dog, and a cat) currently live in Belgrade, Montana, where he continues to work on the language and culture of the Wikchamni people.



These are the sources used in the work(s):

  • Adisasmito-Smith, Niken. Bilingual Dictionary English-Chukchansi Chukchansi-English, draft, California State University, Fresno. 2016
  • Gayton, A. H. Yokuts and Western Mono Ethnography, Volume 10:1 Anthropological Records. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1948
  • Gamble, Geoffrey. Wikchamni Grammar, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1978
  • Gamble, Geoffrey (editor). Yokuts Texts, Berlin, GE: Native American Texts Series, Walter de Gruyter & Co. 1993
  • Kroeber, A. L. Yokuts Dialect Survey, Volume 11:3 Anthropological Records. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1963.
  • Latta, F. F. Handbook of Yokuts Indians. Oildale, California: Bear State Books. 1949
  • Newman, Stanley. Yokuts Language of California. New York: the Viking Fund, Inc. 1944
  • Pietroforte, Al. Songs of the Yokuts and Paiutes. California: Naturegraph Publishers. 1965