In 1999, Tony Johnson who was then the cultural education manager at the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde (CTGR), asked Janne Underriner to work with their department in designing a chinuk wawa immersion preschool. Tony is a founder of the Northwest Indian Language Institute and has partnered with the department of linguistics at UO since 1996. His request began a longstanding relationship that continues to this day.
From this relationship has come years of culture place-based chinuk wawa language and k-4 content curriculum, which is taught in the chinuk wawa preschool and grade school immersion programs. This curriculum includes chinuk wawa storybooks, as well as language assessments for preschool, K-4, high school, and adult learners. It also includes teacher training and teaching assessments. Together with Native faculty at Lane Community College (LCC), these efforts produced two years of chinuk wawa language classes, which are currently being taught at LCC and Willamina High School.
Along with the enduring and valued relationship NILI and Grand Ronde share, our work together on the culture place-based learning is foundational to NILI. Most curriculum we had written previously included culture and lifeways principles since it was influenced by or written with Tribal Elders and speakers and centered in place and traditional lifeways. But what developed and remains as core to NILI’s curriculum from our work with CTGR is culture and place-based learning.