Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics

Revitalize and Preserve the Iroquois Language for Future Generations

The Iroquois language family is a group of distinct but closely related languages. Six are spoken by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. These languages share a common grammatical structure and cultural history and this program explores their commonalities and differences.

Haudenosaunee Languages at Risk

Centuries of colonialism, governmental legislation, and institutional policies have had a devastating impact on Iroquois languages. As native speakers pass away, these languages are in danger of being lost. It is imperative that we preserve and revitalize them in the Iroquois communities!

Certificate Overview

The Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics (CIL) provides an opportunity to study linguistic principles and grammatical features unique to the Iroquois languages, with examples from the six Haudenosaunee languages.

The courses are designed for students and teachers of Iroquois languages, as well as linguists, anthropologists, and others who support the revitalization of Iroquois languages.

I’m gaining knowledge as I integrate my formal linguistic coursework with Iroquois-specific material. I highly recommend this course to any Haudenosaunee who value their culture, and I plan to use this knowledge of formal linguistics for the rest of my life.
John Logan
Oneida Wolf Clan, Oneida, NY

CIL students will learn about the vast Iroquoian scholarly resources available for study and explore the linguistic terminology and concepts that are utilized.

The certificate can be completed in one year by taking two courses in the fall and spring, and the capstone course in the summer. These courses are a combination of in-class and online instruction.

Estimated costs per semester:

University College students should contact the College of Professional Studies Bursar/Registration Office at bursareg@uc.syr.edu or 315-443-4135 for tuition information.

Financial Aid

Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid. To start the process, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) .

The Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship was established in recognition of SU’s appreciation for the historical, political, and cultural legacies of the Haudenosaunee and to honor the bond between the University and the Haudenosaunee. Eligible part-time or full-time students must apply for U.S. federal aid in order to be considered. For detailed information, contact Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy, tbluewol@syr.edu.

Undergraduate Certificate Course Schedule

Note: All courses require instructor permission


NAT 301: Iroquois Verb Morphology I (3 credits)
Analyze the Iroquois verb. Introduction to the morphological structure common to all Iroquois languages.

NAT 305: Iroquois Phonetics and Phonology (3 credits)
Explore the sounds and sound systems of Iroquois Languages and examine how they are related to writing systems.


NAT 302: Iroquois Verb Morphology II (3 credits)
Analyze the Iroquois verb. Introduction to the morphological structure common to all Iroquois languages. This is the second course in a two-part series.
Prerequisite: NAT 301.

NAT 306: Iroquois Syntax and Semantics (3 credits)
Explore the semantic distinctions and syntactic structures in Iroquois Languages.
Prerequisite: NAT 305


NAT 308: Iroquois Linguistics in Practice (3 credits)
The practical application of phonetics, phonology, semantics, morphology, and syntax to the Iroquois language learning and teaching experience.
Prerequisites: NAT 301, 302, 305, and 306.


Percy Abrams, Ph.D.
Instructor, College of Arts & Sciences

Percy Abrams, Ph.D., is a member of the Eel Clan of the Onondaga Nation. He earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2005, and specializes in the morphology and phonology of the Iroquois languages. For permission or questions, please contact Percy for more information.