Rosario Cooper is recognized as the last speaker of the tiłhini language, the language of the Northern Chumash people who lived for thousands of years in the general region now referred to as San Luis Obispo County.
Working with linguist and ethnographer John P. Harrington between the years of 1912 to 1917, Rosario Cooper revealed rich details about her family, extended kinships, events, places, daily activities and memories from her long life. These efforts saved her tribal language from almost certain extinction. Her contributions to Harrington’s studies are memorialized in more than ten thousand notes, now archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Recorded on wax cylinders, she sang beautiful traditional songs. Thanks to Rosario, the tiłhini language and songs are being spoken and sung by yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region, where many are direct descendants and relatives of Rosario Cooper.
They are bringing new life to the monumental work of their grandmother Rosario.