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University of Oregon

Affiliated Faculty & Staff

Affiliated and past NILI staff are essential to NILI. They keep involved by giving valuable input into events and the direction of NILI, attend or teach at the NILI Summer Institute, and continue to stop by and warm our house with great discussion and laughter.

Roger Jacob

Roger Jacob grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation in south central Washington State in a family of five with two brothers and one sister, attending Yakama Reservation Wapato public schools K-12. Roger has studied at Central Texas College, Eastern Washington University (for a Bachelor of Arts degree), Central Washington University (for a Master of Science degree), Heritage University (for B.A. & Secondary Teaching Certificate), Northwest Indian College, University of Washington, Yakima Valley Community College, and the University of Arizona. Approximately 10 years ago Roger became interested in language education. In 2010, he graduated from the University of Oregon with a Master’s Degree in Native Language Teaching Specialization.

Michelle Jacob

Michelle Jacob

Michelle M. Jacob, PhD, is Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies and Director of the Sapsik’ʷałá (Teacher) Education Program in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon. 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. Her first book, Yakama Rising, analyzes models of grassroots activism on the Yakama Reservation to articulate a theory of indigenous social change.

Elaine Phillips

Elaine_PhillipsElaine Phillips recently completed concurrent master’s degrees in Community and Regional Planning, and Conflict and Dispute Resolution at the University of Oregon.  She returned to graduate school after starting a successful career in development and nonprofit management because she wanted to have a greater impact on how communities direct change.  Inspired by her student work with NILI, Elaine joined the staff this summer to help find resources that will ensure Native languages are passed on to tribal members and their children.  Elaine believes that language is the foundation of culture and identity and that protecting them is critical to promoting the vitality of the tribes.  Elaine brings formal training, experience and certificates in mediation, facilitation, collaborative governance and nonprofit management to NILI.

Greg Sutterlict

Gregory Sutterlict is from the Yakama Nation (Washington) and a father of three. He is in his second year at UO in the Linguistics PhD program. Gregory teaches the Yakima dialect of Ichishkiin at the World Language Academy and is based at NILI where he spends most of his time. He is a 2010 recipient of the Margaret Wiese Graduate Research Award at UO, which will support him recording stories for documentation and teaching purposes. Greg also teaches Yakama Ichishkiin at NILI’s Summer Institute.
At home at the Yakama Nation Reservation, Gregory volunteers teaching Ichishkîn around the community.  He teaches basic Ichishkiin, and this winter break Ichishkiin Christmas carols. He is also teaching at the Yakama Nation tribal school, Harrah Christian school, and St. Joes Marquette. Gregory is active with the Xwayamamî Ishîch non-profit organization that is currently working with the community to record Christmas carols in Ichishkiin on CD and also with the Yakama Nation radio station. During his breaks from UO, Greg documents the various dialects of Yakama Ichishkiin and prepares for his Ichishkîn classes at UO.

Racquel-María Sapién

Racquel Yamada Picture

Racquel-María Sapién is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Oregon, as well as a BA in Linguistics/TESOL and an MA in Education. She is currently collaborating with members of the Kari’nja community of Konomerume. She has worked with NILI coordinating Summer Institutes, providing on-site assessments, and co-teaching the materials and computers class with Judith Fernandes.

Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir

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