"This is the first time that's been done in Oregon," said Janne Underriner, Program Director of the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI), the source of much success in bringing Native languages back to life here in the Northwest.
The program is meeting this summer at the Grand Ronde campus.From its start in 1997 until this year, the two-week program set to end July 2 in Grand Ronde's
Education Center had been held at the University of Oregon
.This year, the program accomplished one of its long-standing goals, said Underriner
, to offer the program on an Indian Reservation.
Seven teachers from Tribes
across the region, including Grand Ronde's Chinuk wawa language expert, Tony Johnson, are working with 16 students , mostly Tribal language teachers, said Underriner
helped develop this program at the request of Tribes
.At the time, she was a graduate student at the University of Oregon, studying linguistics.
"My work went from language analysis to working within the communities," she
called the Grand Ronde Chinuk wawa language immersion program "a huge success story.Have you been in and heard those kids speaking Chinuk wawa?," she
"I wish all the Tribes
could have a radio program," said Underriner
The Klamath Tribes
are working with an Elder to keep the language alive, and the Tribes have been able to put the language classes in the public school system.Underriner
cited other success stories. "You can get a degree in the Sahaptin language at Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington," she said.
"Lane Community College
has put together a Native studies program that focuses on language, and if you're interested in studying one language, their goal is to find teachers for that language," she
In addition, the state of Oregon has developed "a specialized teacher license" for teachers of Native languages.
The program has focused since inception on these summer sessions but Underriner
is seeking funds to support "on-site workshops in the fall and spring because teachers need to follow-up."