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Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Tue May 31 18:07:45 UTC 2005

Community College to offer Native American language program

5/30/2005, 11:58 p.m. PT
The Associated Press 

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Lane Community College is poised to become Oregon's
first community college to offer an American Indian language course,
thanks to a $1 million gift made to the college last year from an
anonymous donor.

Interest income from the donation will be used to invite an Indian
scholar to spend a year at the school laying plans the new language

The college has not yet decided which language it will offer, in part
because that will depend on the background of the person it ultimately
hires. But Lane Community College President Mary Spilde said it will be
a language spoken by a Northwest tribe and said they hope to choose a
scholar by this summer.

Ultimately, the college hopes to offer a program rigorous enough that
students who pass the native language class will be able to transfer
the credits to a four-year university and have them count toward the
language requirement for a bachelor's degree.

Although perhaps only six of the 25 tribal languages that existed in
Oregon before European arrival are still spoken, researchers and
linguists say learning one still has value.

"If you learn Nez Perce or Klamath or any of a number of languages, this
gives you access to a large body of traditional lore and literature and
mythology," University of Oregon linguistics professor Scott Delancey,
who studies Northwest Indian languages. "And the truth is, you really
don't get a lot of the story if you just read the English translation."

Twila Souers, a Lakota tribal member, said many tribal languages already
have died out and the few remaining are spoken only by a few people,
usually elders. Teaching them in college is seen not only as a way to
preserve dying languages but also to share the culture they reflect,
she said.

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