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University of Oregon

Collaborative Work 2011-12

Strategic Plan for Karuk Language Restoration

NILI staff worked with the Karuk Language Restoration Committee and Karuk Tribal and Language Program staff in the spring and summer of  2011 to develop a Strategic Plan for the continued restoration of the  Karuk language. This work involved planning and facilitating a retreat with participation from Tribal staff, council members, language speakers and learners, and community members with a sustained interest  in language restoration. During the retreat weekend we evaluated resources and challenges, set long-range goals, and developed a rough timeline and plan for attaining those goals. NILI staff then drafted a plan and revised it based on feedback. The overall goal is to restore the Karuk Language to something that is heard and spoken by Karuk people every day throughout the Karuk homelands.  Joana, Regan and Zeke were very pleased to share this work with the Karuk community.  The Plan is now being edited by the Karuk Language Restoration Committee and will be presented to the Karuk Tribal Council for review.

Ichishkíin Culture and Language as Protective Factors

This project is a collaboration between NILI, the Yakama Nation Language Program, the Yakama Reservation Wellness Coalition, and three school districts on the Yakama Nation. The goal of the program is to increase self-esteem, cultural pride and drug and alcohol free lifestyles in our YN at-risk teenagers. With tribal teachers and NILI summer institute students, the team is developing culture-based curriculum centered around traditional foods and nutrition, longhouse protocol and legends that link powerful moral lessons with sites on the Reservation. We will also develop two evaluation measures that assess (1) the effectiveness of language and cultural teachings in preventing drug and alcohol abuse among Native youth; and (2) the relationship between language and cultural teaching and increased self-esteem and self-worth in Native youth.

Nimiipuu Language Teaching and Family Learning

At the beginning of October, Judith and Joana spent a weekend with the Nez Perce Language program in Lapwai to work with teachers and community members on activities and strategies for teaching language and using it in the home. The first day focused on teachers, with an emphasis on using stories and legends in the classroom. The second day focused on using the Nez Perce language at home during play time, story time, in different areas of the house and while doing everyday activities. Also, a special honoring was made to Haruo Aoki, a Japanese linguist who worked with the Nez Perce elders for more than twenty years on creating the Nez Perce Dictionary. Other elders who participate in language revitalization were also recognized.

There was a great turnout, including a number of elders and master learners who provided the Nimiipuu words and sentences for the activities as well as rich cultural information. The Nez Perce Language Program is now offering to their community monthly language sessions using methods that were taught at the training. Many who attended the event continue to give positive reports to the language program about the event.

Grand Ronde and Yakama Nation ANA projects

NILI just finished supporting two three-year ANA grants, one with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and one with the Yakama Nation. The Grand Ronde project focused on the development of place and culture based language immersion curriculum for grades K-5. Topics included berries, salmon, acorns, camas, canoes and canoe journeys and cedar basketry. Units contained math, science and language arts lessons in Chinuk Wawa. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has just been awarded another three year ANA grant. NILI will support teachers with training and curriculum writing. The purpose of the new project is to create a Chinuk Wawa immersion school for K-1. Seven new place and culture based units will be created based on language arts, math and science.

The just-ending Yakama Nation ANA grant paired 8 learners with 4 Elders in a Master-Apprenticeship program, with the goal of building speakers and language teachers who are knowledgeable about their language and traditions, and who maintain the virtues of respect, honor, and discipline towards the Elders and within the family. Four different dialects of the Yakama Nation were included, with Master- Apprentice teams based Toppenish, Goldendale, Wapato and White Swan. In addition, teams documented traditional activities to be used in creating lessons and to be archived for future use. The learners are now teachers, with various community classes taking place. NILI supported this project with teacher training in curriculum development, and linguistics training.

The Tolowa Athabaskan Lexicon and Text Collection Project: Recording the Last Speakers of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Language

This National Science Foundation funded documentation project will result in an audio and written catalogue of Tolowa Dee-ni’ language as well as a dictionary with selected sound files. It is a collaboration between the Del Norte County Unified School District and NILI, and is supported by the Smith River Rancheria Tolowa Dee-ni’ Tribe.

Topics like personal recollections, geography, weather, birds, animals, food, and sayings are central to the recordings, as these are subjects that provide rich insights into Tolowa Dee-ni’ culture in addition to supplying language for the databases.  Along with recording new material, the project is taking an inventory of existing recordings and creating a searchable database with speaker names, time indexes, and summaries. This work supports Tolowa Dee-ni’ Wee-ya’ (language) Restoration Strategy and their culture preservation, and will provide rich sources that teachers can use to develop classroom materials.

Ichishkíin/Sahaptin: Language documentation of Yakama natural and cultural resources

The importance of Yakama natural and cultural resources, and all that their Yakama names represent, is expanded upon and reinforced in the Yakama language by elders through recollections, stories, songs and ceremonies. This NSF-funded project documents the knowledge of the elders in their own language. It is a collaboration between the Yakama Nation Division of Natural Resources and NILI. During the project, we will record elders speaking to the broad themes of places and cultural and natural resource management and preservation within the Yakama Nation; transcribe, translate and annotate these recordings, and produce a digital and paper catalogue of Yakama natural resources, including places, plants, animals, fish, birds, and insects significant to Yakamas. This work will support and strengthen natural and cultural resource management and add to efforts to teach and preserve Ichishkíin.