Those involved with NILI come from a variety of backgrounds and specialize in a variety of areas including:
- Native American languages
- language restoration
- bilingual and immersion program methodologies
- language assessment and curriculum development
- applied linguistics
- language teaching
- language program design
- computer assisted language learning (CALL)
- language and educational policy
- resource development
Dr. Janne Underriner
Director, Northwest Indian Language Institute
Janne Underriner is the director of the Northwest Indian Language Institute. She has been active with language preservation issues in the Northwest since 1996 when she began working with Elders in the Klamath Tribes’ language project developing curriculum and teaching materials for their community and schools. She co-founded the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) in 1997. Underriner assists the tribes in developing language programs and writing curriculum, assessment and teaching materials. She worked with the Tribes to develop the NW Indian Language Benchmarks in 2000. She is a grant writer of language and educational projects for the Tribes and for NILI. Underriner is a consultant to Oregon’s Department of Education. Her languages of research are Klamath, Tolowa and Chinuk Wawa.
Language Teaching Consultant
Judith Fernandes has taught language for most of her adult life. She has an interdisciplinary masters degree in immersion education from the University of Oregon. When she retired from teaching in the public school system, she joined the NILI team and began working with tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Her specialties are immersion language teaching, writing curriculum, oral assessment and teacher training.
Joana Jansen is currently working with Virginia Beavert on a written grammar of Yakama Ichishkíin / Sahaptin. She has worked with NILI teaching Linguistics for Native Language teachers, as well as in on-site teacher trainings focused on linguistics, curriculum, and materials. She also has contributed to curriculum development for UO’s Ichishkíin language classes, and appreciates the opportunity to mesh language documentation with language teaching goals. She holds a doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Oregon.
Dr. Virginia Beavert
Yakama Nation Elder, Sahaptin Language Teacher, University of Oregon
Since the 1970’s, Ms. Beavert has been a key figure in teaching and preserving her Native language. She has taught introductory through advanced classes to students of all ages.
Robert Elliott is a classroom based instructor, online instructor and teacher trainer at the University of Oregon’s, American English Institute. His areas of interest are computer assisted language learning, oral communication, and intonation and prosodic patterns of language. With 15 years of language teaching experience, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area working with adult learners of English in a variety of settings, he now enjoys bringing his skills and background to the area of language revitalization.
Ichishkiin Researcher and Curriculum Assistant
Regan Anderson has worked with NILI since 2009. She studies linguistics at the University of Oregon and has completed several years of Ichishkiin language classes. She is collaborating with members of the Yakama Nation on Ichishkiin curriculum development and language documentation, and assists Elder Virginia Beavert in organizing, archiving, and transcribing previous and current work. After graduating, Regan hopes to continue her work with the Ichishkiin language community.
Francesca Blythe began work at NILI in Fall 2011 as an Office Coordinator. She assists in general office duties, as well as providing accounting and grant administration support. Francesca graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a B.S. in accounting, and has worked in the accounting field for 15 years. She moved to Oregon in 2002, and is committed to supporting NILI’s mission of language revitalization in the Pacific Northwest.
Administrative Assistant (GTF)
Pyuwa has been working at NILI since 2009. He started as a researcher in Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ (Tolowa), working on documenting the last speakers of Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ through a Documenting Endangered Languages grant. In the Fall of 2012 he started working as the Administrative Assistant for NILI.
Pyuwa recieved his master’s degree in the Language Teaching and Specialization Program in the Linguistics Department at the UO in the summer of 2011. Now he is working towards his doctorate in the Linguistic program with a goal of writing a grammar on Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’.
Pyuwa is a descendent of Nii~-lii~-chvn-dvn Dee-ni’ and speaks Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ with his family at home, which include his wife Ruby and their two children. He also uses the language with communities members around the Eugene area and community members in Smith River and Crescent City when he can.
Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir
Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir has been working with the Lushootseed language and culture for over 35 years. He lives in Washington, where he teaches, studies and researches Lushootseed. He has authored many publications, including beginning and advanced Lushootseed text books, songs, and a series of interactive CD-ROMs. He does consulting work with several of the local tribes through his own company, Zahir Consulting Services. His main goal is to see Lushootseed language revitalized through full immersion language programs. For more information Lushootseed and available materials, go to http://pugetsalish.com.
Racquel Yamada has a BA in Linguistics/TESOL and an MA in Education. She is currently collaborating with members of the Kari’nja community of Konomerume as she completes a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Oregon. She has worked with NILI coordinating Summer Institutes, providing on-site assessments, and co-teaching the materials and computers class with Judith Fernandes.
Michelle M. Jacob (Yakama) is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and affiliate faculty of Sociology at the University of San Diego, where she teaches courses in American Indian studies and comparative ethnic studies. Her work has been published in several journals, including Wicazo Sa Review, Social Justice, Societies Without Borders, International Feminist Journal of Politics, American Behavioral Scientist and interdisciplinary anthologies. She engages in scholarly and activist work that seeks to understand and work toward a holistic sense of health and well-being within indigenous communities. Her work has been funded by the Ford Foundation, American Sociological Association, National Institute of Mental Health, National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Aging, and University of San Diego Faculty Research Grants. She is currently working on a book project that analyzes models of grassroots activism on the Yakama Reservation to articulate a theory of indigenous social change.
NILI Advisory Board
Dr. Virginia Beavert
Yakama Nation Elder, Sahaptin Language Teacher, University of Oregon
Virginia Beavert, a member of the Yakama Nation, is a highly respected teacher and fluent speaker of her language, Yakima Sahaptin. Virginia has worked throughout her life to teach and preserve her native language. She has been the Washington State Indian Educator of the Year, and in 2004 was honored by the Indigenous Language Institute for her lifetime of work on language revitalization. She was a key planner of the Yakama exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and has served on numerous committees and planning councils related to the documentation and preservation of Native languages.
Tony A. Johnson
Community Education Director
Tony Johnson is a Chinook Tribal member, a linguist and an artist who was born in his family’s traditional territory on Willapa Bay in Washington. His education includes attending the University of Washington and Central Washington University, where he earned a degree in Silversmithing and a minor in Anthropology.
Today, Tony directs the Community Education Program for the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe. Tony, who is a speaker of Chinuk Wawa, learned it as a second language from his own elders as well as the elders of the Grand Ronde community.
Professor of Linguistics, University of Oregon
Scott DeLancey is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Oregon. He has worked with Native American languages for over 25 years, including fieldwork in a Dene community in Canada, and documentation and consulting with Oregon tribes. He has written extensively about the structure and history of the Klamath language, and the historical relationships of the Native languages of Oregon and California. He is one of the founders of NILI, and has regularly taught in the summer institute. He also works with indigenous languages and communities in Asia, especially in Nepal and Northeast India.
Director of Education, Klamath Tribes
Brenda Frank has served as the Director of Education and Employment for the Klamath Tribes since 1996. Prior to this role, she worked as a personnel officer for the Klamath Tribes Health Department from 1994 to 1996 and as an Employment Specialist for the Oregon State Employment Department from 1988 to 1994. Brenda served on the Klamath County School District Board from 2001-2005. She is an active member in the Education Government-to-Government process under SB 770, through the Oregon Indian Education Association, National Indian Education Association and the Title VII Indian Education Parent Committee. Frank has also served on the boards of the Klamath County Local Alcohol/Drug Planning Committee and the Klamath Family Head Start. Ms. Frank attended North Seattle Community College, Spokane Community College, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Oregon State College.
Director, Yamada Language Center
Jeff Magoto is director of the Yamada Language Center. He’s been involved in foreign language teaching and training for more than 30 years, specializing in the uses of computer-based technologies for course authoring and materials development. He has been involved with NILI since 2000 and has taught methodology and computer-assisted language learning at previous summer institutes. He is also the director of the UO’s World Languages Academy, where the Sahaptin language program is currently housed. This allows him to be intimately involved with the challenges and rewards of native language program development and revitalization.
Carl Falsgraf (CV)
Carl Falsgraf is director of the Center for Applies Second Language Studies (CASLS) and the Chinese K-16 Flagship. He holds a doctorate in linguistics, and he has been teaching and conducting research on language education for over twenty years. His classroom experience includes teaching ESL, Japanese, and a variety of graduate courses in pedagogy and methodology. Falsgraf served on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Executive Board and as president for the Pacific Northwest Council for Languages. His interests include proficiency assessment, standards-based approaches to language education, and data-driven professional development.