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University of Oregon

Warm Springs NSF

Documenting Warm Springs Ichishkiin



The project team, from left: Joana Jansen, University of Oregon; Merle Kirk, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS); Valerie Switzler, CTWS; Nariyo Kono, Portland State University; Hank Millstein

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) is nestled in the volcanic valleys of the Cascade mountain range, in what is now the state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America. To the north is Mount Hood, and to the west Mount Jefferson, surrounded by the waterways of the Metolius and Deschutes rivers. The tribal population numbers 4,870 people. The Wasco, Warm Springs, and Paiute tribal groups are three distinct tribal entities with three distinct languages that have united into one strong nation. There are three languages on the Warm Springs Reservation: Kiksht, Numu and Ichishkiin, spoken by the Wasco, Northern Paiute and Warm Springs people respectively.

This project will document the Warm Springs Ichishkiin (Sahaptin) language of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The work will result in improved databases, an updated dictionary and an updated grammar. The project includes documentation and linguistics and trains tribal members in audio and video recording, text transcription, lexicography, and data management.

This project benefits from a unique collaboration among the CTWS community elders, the CTWS Culture and Heritage Department, and documentation/linguistic researchers and their academic institutions. Through this collaboration and by providing training in the language community, we hope to develop sustainable products that will have long term benefits for both tribal community and research community members.

Products and results of the project will include:

  • A Warm Springs Ichishkiin dictionary and grammar, expanded from existing resources
  • Lexical and text databases based on legacy and newly collected text materials with accompanying audio and video files, transcription and translation
  • Training in linguistics, dictionary development, language documentation and data collection and 

Recordings and products will be archived and disseminated to the public through various programs at CTWS as well as academic institutions (Portland State University and University of Oregon). CTWS’s  Project Advisory Committee will determine levels of access. Language learners, teachers, and the tribal community will use the dictionary and grammar and recordings and transcriptions, as will academic researchers. Materials for teaching language and culture, as well as an enhanced understanding of the language’s structure, will be developed from these rich resources.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Documenting Endangered Languages Program (Award # BCS-1500674)