The Story of NILI
The Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) was created at the University of Oregon (UO) in 1997 as an answer to Oregon and Washington tribal requests for Native language teacher training. Ichishkiin language teachers from Warm Springs and the Yakama Nation who had attended the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) were inspired to develop their own institute to address specifically the needs of their critically endangered Pacific Northwest language communities. In May, 1998, speakers from tribes in the region met with UO linguistics faculty and graduate students to outline their teacher training needs which set in motion NILI’s first Summer Institute that July. Since then, NILI has become a year-round program serving Native language communities locally, nationally and internationally.
NILI is among a handful of programs that plays a role in attracting, retaining and educating indigenous students at UO. NILI is an established program that directly supports indigenous students and their communities. It meets multiple UO goals. It supports: 1) graduate and undergraduate education; 2) diversity; and 3) external relationships with tribal communities. NILI serves the UO, the Northwest and tribal communities though a collaborative model that reaches beyond demographic goals. It influences institutional practices in the areas of curriculum and research, while simultaneously meeting the articulated needs of tribal communities.
NILI supports and strengthens language preservation and revitalization efforts. With tribal, academic and community partners, NILI establishes collaborative, on-going projects which meet the specific needs and desires of each language community. Integral to NILI are teacher training, curriculum development, language documentation and appropriate uses in technology. NILI provides outreach services on issues of language endangerment and advocates for language revitalization issues.
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