An indigenous language or autochthonous language, is a language that is native to a region and spoken by indigenous people. This language is from a linguistically distinct community that originated in that area. At present, 96% of the world's approximately 6,700 languages are spoken by only 3% of the world's population. Although indigenous people make up less than 6% of the global population, they speak more than 4,000 of the world's languages.
Conservative estimates suggest that more than half of the world's languages will become extinct by 2100. Other calculations predict that up to 95% of the world's languages may become extinct or seriously endangered by the end of the century, with the indigenous languages being the majority of the languages under threat. The disappearance of indigenous languages is for various reasons, which includes the mass extinction of entire communities by natural disaster or genocide, aging communities in which the language is not passed on, and oppressive language planning policies that are actively seeking to eradicate indigenous languages. Many indigenous people worldwide have stopped passing on their ancestral languages to next generation. Instead, they have adopted the majority language as part of their acculturation into the majority culture. Moreover, many indigenous languages have been subject to linguicide (language killing).
While some indigenous peoples are successful at revitalizing and developing their languages such as Native Hawaiians, which was on the brink of extinction in the 1970s and was re-established an an official language in 1978, others are fighting a losing battle. Although most governments are aware of the language crisis and have introduced legislation, policies and programs to address it. However, greater efforts are needed. Lack of resources is frequently cited as a reason for inadequate actions. Funding is often only provided for the recording of languages, which includes transcribed, translated, and annotated audiovisual recordings and only limited funds are allocated to language revitalization programs.
In recognizing their vulnerability, the United Nations proclaimed 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to "draw attention to the critical lost of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages."
The Ohlone languages, also known as Costanoan, are a small family of indigenous languages spoken by the Onlone people. Ohlone comprises of eight varieties: Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen. While the known languages are quite distinct, intermediate dialects may have been lost as local groups gathered at the missions. Although the last native speakers of Ohlone languages died by the 1950s, Chochenyo, Mutsun, and Rumsend are now in a state of revival as learned by records.