The staff at NILI are privileged to work with tribes and organizations on various short and long term projects and we appreciate being invited to be a part of this kind of work because we learn and grow through these collaborative efforts. NILI has also created sample documents and curriculum to aid in language revitalization efforts. Here are some of the projects, documents, and curriculum we have collaborated on or created over the years:
Collaborative Work Summer and Fall 2014
Administration for Native Americans Tribal Projects
Creating Ichishkíin Speakers
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ ANA project, now in its first year, will develop teachers for the Autni Ichishkin Sapsikwat preschool. Teaching apprentices will build their language proficiency and their teaching skills, and will become tribally certified as language teachers. NILI is pleased to collaborate with the language program and their skilled elders and teachers on training for the new group of teachers. NILI staff members are traveling to Warm Springs for trainings, and Warm Spring staff members will participate in UO online courses and attend the Summer Institute.
Chahta Anno̱pa Isht A̱ya
A couple years ago, NILI staff have begun working with team members from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians on their recently-funded ANA project, Chahta Anno̱pa Isht A̱ya. The project goal is to train and certify Choctaw language instructors and produce language learning materials for teaching Choctaw language learning standards, with a focus on pre-k and elementary school learners in Choctaw Tribal Schools.
NILI will partner with the language program and offer support for the objectives of creating language learning curriculum and teaching materials, and training language teachers. NILI will also work with the project team in evaluating the project. Teachers in the project will also attend NILI’s Summer Institute.
Chinuk Wawa Immersion K-2 Program
This is year 2 of working with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde on their most recent ANA project focused on the development of place and culture based language immersion curriculum for their immersion K-2 program. Judith Fernandes is the lead curriculum developer and teacher trainer on the project, and her goal for this project is to create a literary arts program based on the stories of elder Eula Petite. Some of the stories’ topics have become units in themselves, for example, bears, beavers, elk, birds and frogs. Units contain math, science and language arts lessons in Chinuk Wawa. Seven new place and culture based units will be created each year based on language arts, math and science. NILI is also supporting teachers with trainings in teaching methods, assessment and curriculum writing and working with the language program to continue certifying Chinuk Wawa teachers.
Dee-ni’ Wee-ya’ Xwee-nish
We have begun year 2 of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Wee-ya’ Teacher Certification (TTC) Program. The assessment consists of teacher and learner standards with an assessment tool, and we are developing teaching curriculum to accompany the standards. This will allow the Tribe to implement the Tribal Dee-ni’ Wee-ya’ Xwee-nish (“The Dee-ni’ Language Lives”) Project. This project is essential to Smith River Rancheria as it will allow their Tolowa teachers to become certified Taa-laa-wa language teachers under the State of California’s new American Indian languages Credential Assembly Bill 544 (AB544, January 1, 2010). The project has a larger scope as it will assist Coastal Athabaskan speaking tribes in both California and Oregon, and will be held as a model for all (California) tribal language programs.
National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages Projects
Ichishkiin/Sahaptin: Language documentation of Yakama natural and cultural resources
The Yakama Ichiishkiin documentation project continued in 2014 with its work of documenting the knowledge of Yakama elders. 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. The 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. We are recording elders speaking to the broad themes of places and cultural and natural resource management and preservation within the Yakama Nation; transcribing, and translating these recordings, and at the end of the project we will have produced 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 Ichishkiin.
The Tolowa Athabaskan Lexicon and Text Collection Project: Recording the Last Speakers of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Language
This year our NSF- Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) funded documentation project has come to its end. It has resulted in an audio and written catalogue of Tolowa Dee-ni’ language materials, and has developed a database whose output this year will become a dictionary with accompanying sound files. It was a collaboration between the Del Norte County Unified School District and NILI, and the Smith River Rancheria Tolowa Dee-ni’ Tribe. It has also supported Pyuwa Bommelyn, Tolowa second-language learner, speaker and teacher to complete his masters in Native Language Teaching Specialization (2011) and begin a doctoral program in linguistics.
In addition to recording new material, the project took inventory of existing recordings and creating a searchable database with speaker names, time indexes, and summaries. This work supports Tolowa language and culture preservation, and will provide rich sources that teachers can use to develop classroom materials. Pyuwa’s master’s project, Dee-ni’ Mee-ne’ Wee-ya’ Lhetlh-xat: Dee-ni’ Home Language Class, also a product of the project, supports Tolowa families and learners of Tolowa in the home. It provides a model for learners of other endangered languages.
Because of his involvement in the project, Pyuwa presented on Tolowa Language Revitalization efforts at the 2012 Athabaskan (Dene) language conference. His presentation focused on the two sides of language revitalization – language documentation and language learning. In addition to speaking about linguistic documentation of Tolowa Dee-ni’, Pyuwa discussed language teaching and learning strategies in the Tolowa Dee-ni’ community. This included the Tolowa Master Apprentice programs; Accelerated Second Language Acquisition methods and communicative language strategies in Del Norte High School, and he introduced the concept of Reclaiming Domains, work the Northwest Indian Language Institute is focusing on which includes language learning in the home as well as in language classes.
Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of the project is that it contains the final recordings of the last fluent speakers of Tolowa Dee-ni’, Margaret Dee-’ishlh-ne Brooks and Eunice Xash-wee-tes-na Bommelyn. The project is a tribute to both Tolowa elders as they both passed during the project.
National Endowment for the Arts
Native Language-Arts Apprenticeship Program
This project, focused on Grand Ronde Basketry and the Chinuk Wawa language, is a collaboration between the Oregon Folklife Network at UO, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and NILI. The project integrates revitalizations of language and weaving traditions, and brings heritage language speakers and traditional basket weavers together to teach Grand Ronde basketry traditions and weaving in the Chinuk Wawa language. The project includes curriculum development that will result in materials for all ages. It will also document the revitalization successes and challenges at Grand Ronde. The project’s materials will be made available at NILI’s, OFN’s and Grand Ronde’s web sites.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Ichishkiin Culture and Language as Protective Factors: A Foundation of Wellness
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. This fall we administered our evaluation measure at two high schools in Toppenish, Washington – EAGLE and the Yakama Nation Tribal School’s high school – which was developed by the team last year. It assesses the effectiveness of language and cultural teachings in preventing drug and alcohol abuse among Native youth and it looks at the relationship between language and cultural teaching and increased self-esteem and self-worth in Native youth. We will begin developing an Ichishkiin language measure this year.
Oregon Department of Education and Lane Education Service District
chaku-kəmtəks pi hayu-kəmtəks (to learn and be in the process of learning): Southern Willamette Valley Project is an initiative of Lane Education Service District with funding via the Oregon Department of Education. NILI, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and public schools of Lane County also participate. The project will improve pedagogical practices and teaching strategies for and about Native Americans.
Puyallup Tribal Language Project
This project, funded by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, supports graduate research fellow Zalmai ʔəswəli “Zeke” Zahir to work on txʷəlšucid language revitalization. The project involves daily video conferencing and language support between Zalmai and project staff in Washington three weeks per month, with one week per month when Zalmai travels to the language program in Washington. The team is engaged in a variety of activities to build language use. They are establishing txʷəlšucid language within the infant room at the early language center, with the goal of establishing language use in all the classes. Classrooms at Chief Leschi schools include txʷəlšucid. Tribal government is increasing language use. In short, more people are speaking and using the language.
The Takelma Language Restoration Project
This overall project will result in materials that will teach basic Takelma vocabulary and grammar to interested members of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. The currently available materials are publications and notes from more than a century ago, collected by linguist Edward Sapir. Sapir worked with Mrs. Frances Johnson, a Takelma speaker, in 1906. Sapir’s work was intended purely as a basis for linguistic research, with no thought that anyone might ever want to use it as a practical guide to the language. Our primary task for this phase of the project is to reorganize Sapir’s materials into an organized, searchable database.
The major activities of the first phase of the project will be to create a useable spelling system for the language; convert Takelma words, sentences, and stories in Sapir’s materials into this system and enter them into a linguistic software package; prepare a few sample teaching modules as examples of what kinds of things can be done with the database.
We are happy to partner with the Tribe to bring this language to a new generation of learners and speakers.
NILI Distance Education Initiative
NILI is now in its third year of developing and offering distance education opportunities for Native language and teacher communities. NILI is addressing the needs of language teachers by creating online environments and practice opportunities for increasing fluency and confidence in their speaking beyond the intermediate levels. Mobile applications are also being incorporated into our creation of materials, to enhance “anytime, anywhere” learning models for Native languages.
The goal of this distance education work, started in 2012, is to develop a sustainable model of Native language teaching and Native teacher training using video conferencing, online openly available course-sites, as well as other web centered applications. Based on surveys and interviews with past NILI Summer Institute participants, and thanks to the generous funding from the Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and the Fithian Family Foundation , the project is now up and running, addressing the needs of the communities NILI serves.
As part of the start-up of work on this initiative, NILI is currently planning a DE class bringing the various dispersed Sahaptin/Ichishkiin speaking communities together from Yakama, Warm Springs and Umatilla. These communities will join undergraduate students learning 2nd year Ichishkiin at the University of Oregon. The class, team taught by Virginia Beavert and Joana Jansen, includes virtual visits from language teachers and speakers who normally would not be able to take part due to distance. Blending the UO’s second year class with Heritage University’s first year class taught by Greg Sutterlict on the Yakama Nation is another DE element that would not have been possible in the past.
“We are creating a community of learners that bridges the traditional boundaries of the classroom,” says Robert Elliott, the project’s producer. Among other unusually rich opportunities, students will have a chance to visit the Yakama Nation this fall and other sites over the year. “This is a unique chance to bring the teaching of the language into and onto the lands where it was traditionally spoken,” says Dr. Jansen.
Dr. Virginia Beavert has long dreamed of this opportunity to bring Ichishkiin language learners and speakers together. The technology is finally ready to make her dream a reality.
High School Youth Programs
With funding from the AMB Foundation and the Sociological Initiatives Foundation as well as tribal funding from Spirit Mountain Community Fund and Wildhorse Foundation, NILI has involved tribal youth from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in classroom projects to design and create teaching materials, which they then share with younger learners in their communities. Youth from these communities have also attended Summer Institute.
Funding from Gates Foundation supports our continued work with the Yakama Nation Language Program, the Yakama Reservation Wellness Coalition, and the Toppenish-Eagle School District. The goal is to increase self-esteem, cultural pride, and drug- and alcohol-free lifestyles for at-risk teenagers while building language and technology skills. Youth and families will discuss language loss and language use within their own households. Youth will develop culture-based e-books and teaching materials and attend the Summer Institute.
Ichishkíin Teachers’ Gathering and Website
NILI and Heritage University’s Center for Native Culture and Health sponsored the second annual Páwyak’ukt Ichishkíin Sapsikw’ałáma (Gathering of Ichishkíin Teachers) at Heritage University in August. This event highlights language teachers sharing materials and learning from one another. The shared materials, as well as other Ichishkíin language teaching units, will be posted on a website and made available to those attending the event.
Chinuk Wawa Distance Education Program
The Chinuk Wawa language program supported by Lane Community College, in Eugene, is a collaboration between Lane, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and NILI. In its sixth year, the program serves UO, Lane and Portland State undergraduate and graduate students, and also community members on the Grand Ronde Reservation and in the Portland and Eugene areas with 100 and 200 level classes. All of the instructional staff are connected to the language program at Grand Ronde and to NILI and are committed to the revitalization of Chinuk Wawa as a lingua-franca of the Northwest. We hope to develop a third year self-study of Chinuk Wawa studies in texts, grammar and conversation at the World Languages Academy at UO for Fall 2013.
The Chinuk Wawa Language Program supported by Lane Community College is a collaboration between Lane, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and NILI. In its eighth year, the program serves the UO, Lane, and Portland State undergraduates and graduate students, and also community members on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation and in the Portland and Eugene areas with 100- and 200-level courses. At the UO, Ichishkíin 200-level courses are being offered this academic year, with the 100-level course to repeat beginning in fall 2015.