Chinook Immersion

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Sun Mar 20 23:27:55 UTC 2005

Willamina to offer Chinook immersion
Published: March 17, 2005
Of the News-Register

GRAND RONDE - The Willamina School District and the Grand Ronde Tribe 
are close to agreement on the launching of a Chinook language immersion 
program for first- and second-graders, Superintendent Gus Forster said. 
  Forster said the curriculum would be offered to between 15 and 20 
district students. He said enrollment will be open to tribal and 
nontribal members.

The Chinooks were once a strong tribe with related bands near the mouth 
of the Columbia River and extending from the Pacific Ocean to the 
Cascade Mountains.

Until recently, however, Chinook jargon, also known as Chinuk-wawa, was 
almost extinct.  Interest has rebounded in recent  years. The tribe is 
now trying to make it the language of the future.  Tony Johnson, who 
teaches in the tribe's education center, is working with the district 
to create the program, Forster told the school board at its Monday 
night meeting at the middle school.

Johnson has worked with Portland linguist Henry Zenk to create a 
written Chinuk-wawa alphabet. He has also designed a computer program 
so Chinuk-wawa characters can be typed.

Meanwhile, Johnson has developed a teaching program that has become a 
model for Pacific Northwest tribes. Both he and Zenk are licensed by 
the state to teach the language.

"We're committed to this," Forster said. "We're getting very close. 
It's going to be very interesting."

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