Manchu is one of the Tungusic languages, of which it is the major and best-documented representative. Though it has for practical purposes died out in its original homeland, Manchu continues to be used by the Sibe, a minority nationality living in the Ili Valley in Xinjiang. Because it was the official language of the last dynasty to rule in China, the Qing (1644-1911), a great many historical, religious, and literary works—as well as documentary sources—were composed in Manchu beginning in the early 1600s. It is now recognized that a significant portion of the imperial Qing archives consists of documents written in Manchu; thus, knowledge of the language has become essential for original research in a variety of areas, ranging from the pre-dynastic history of the Manchus to ethnic history, frontier history, and most areas of institutional history from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. Introductory Manchu is offered for a full academic year in alternating years, with an intermediate course and additional reading courses available in succeeding years.