My main interest and role as a linguist is to support language preservation and teaching efforts, and to continue to work with speech community members to figure out better ways to do this. I have worked with the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) at the University of Oregon since 2001, and with Yakama Nation elders, teachers and learners since 2004. At NILI, I began as a graduate student volunteer, became a graduate research fellow, and now am faculty. Through my work at NILI, I have had the honor of collaborating with several communities on teacher training, language documentation and training in documentation, and materials, curriculum and assessment development. I’m thrilled to be currently working on two language documentation projects focusing on Ichishkíin, one at the Yakama Nation and the other at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
My most in depth work in academic linguistic description has been on Sahaptian languages (Sahaptin/Ichishkiin and Nez Perce/Nimiipuutimt). I’m interested in best ways to present pedagogical grammar materials and explain complex pieces of grammar. I’m thinking a lot these days about learner self-assessment for Native language learners, encouraging students, and myself, to set goals for language proficiency and use that are meaningful and relevant. Along with classroom teachers, I’m looking at teacher action research models and best practices in encouraging reflective and responsive teaching. I’ve been working more with younger, high school-aged learners: how can we encourage, support, and learn from the next generation of language speakers and teachers? And, as in all of NILI’s work, I hold the goal of continuing to develop and maintain respectful and inclusive procedures for research, curriculum development, and data management for our projects.