Maria Hinton Passes


By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks ( 


Oneida matriarch Maria Hinton passed away Sunday, July 28 at 103 years old. 

Hinton's Oneida name was Yake yale, it translated into the English language as “She Remembers”.

Hinton, whose first language was Oneida, didn’t learn English until she was sent to a government school at the age of 10. She was raised by her grandparents who only spoke Oneida in the home. She was a faithkeeper of the Oneida longhouse and one of the first state certified Oneida language teachers in the country.

She was one of the first teachers at the Oneida Nation Elementary School in 1980. She taught language and culture classes.

During the second half of her life she passed on her knowledge of the language and created thousands of recordings and books as critical learning tools of the Oneida language.  She taught three generations of Oneida students during her career. She taught at the Oneida Nation Elementary School until she retired at the age of 92, after which she continued to teach in her home.

She is applauded for her work to preserving the Oneida language by completing a verbal Oneida dictionary with the guidance of University of Wisconsin – Green Bay Linguistics professor, Cliff Abbott. She spent nearly 20 years along with her brother Amos Christjohn and Dr. Abbott to completing the dictionary to preserve the Oneida language.

“People are begging, they want to speak the language, so they say,” Hinton said during an interview three years ago. “We thought that it would be important to have a dictionary that they could refer to.”

“To develop the Oneida dictionary was a significant piece of scholarly work that transcends time and encourages people to learn the language,” said former Oneida Tribal Chairman Rick Hill. “Her dedication and her efforts were extremely important and I want to thank her for her work.”

"My grandmother was one of the most important influence's of my Life. I will always cherish her legacy. It is a great Honor to be one of so many grandchildren that she loved so dearly," said Hinton's grandson, Ernie Stevens, Jr. on Facebook early Monday morning.

The wake will be held on Wednesday, July 31 at Ryan's Funeral Home in De Pere, visitation will begin at 5 p.m., service at 7 p.m. A traditional Oneida longhouse wake will take place on Thursday, August 1 at the Oneida longhouse, visitation will begin at 5 p.m.. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, August 2, at the Oneida Longhouse.    

It is the cultural tradition of the Oneida people to begin a fire to honor and offer prayers for an individual who has passed on, that fire will be located at her original homestead located at 4204 W. Mason St (HWY 54) in Oneida.  Friends and family may come to the fire to offer their condolences and donations to the family.  


Link to Oneida Dictionary

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