andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Wed Jun 14 06:06:16 UTC 2006
Tribal Program Preserves Native Language, Culture
By Fred Delkin
Editor's Note: In 2001 Oregon Magazine published an editorial
criticizing a Umatilla Reservation program to teach tribal
schoolchildren their native language, stating that this effort
sidestepped the English language skills these students need for their
economic future. This misguided opinion piece was labeled "racist"
by a tribal spokesperson. The following describes this program that
has obvious cultural worth.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation have combined
both private foundation and federal funds to establish a master-
apprentice Language Preservation program in the tribal Nixyaawii
community school serving grades 9-12 on the reservation just east of
Pendleton in northeastern Oregon.
This three-year project partners students with tribal elders still
speaking native languages. At project's end dthe apprentices are
eligible for licensure by the tribe and the state of Oregon's Teacher
Standards and Practices Commission as teachers of Cayuse/Nez Perce,
Umatilla and Walla Walla languages.
The Umatilla reservation was established in 1855 by treaty and was
united by a single tribal government in 1949. There are currently
2,525 enrolled tribal members and a reservation of 158,000 acres.
We salute tribal chairman Albert Minthorn for his direction of an
outstanding effort to maintain tribal heritage. This includes a just-
concluded Culture Camp May 15-19 for 40 Nixyaawii students learning
traditional tribal values. An "Entrepeneur Workshop" has guided
students in specific techniques for starting a business..."strategies
for maximizing personal satisfaction and profits." June 15-22 16
students will participate in "journeys in creativity: explorations in
Native Art & Culture."
Certainly the Confederated Umatilla tribes are dedicated to guiding
their members into a bright future.
© 2006 Oregon Magazine
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