The Klamath Tribes

In the early 1990s, Scott DeLancey of UO’s Linguistics Department met elders of the Klamath Tribe. Gordon Bettles, then director of the Culture and Heritage program, invited Scott to listen in on early discussions of a Klamath-Modoc language program. Noel Rude, then a linguistics graduate student at UO, worked with the tribe in developing the Klamath Phrase Book and cd which, to this day, is used by Klamath language learners. In the summer of 1997, Klamath elders Mrs. Neva Eggsman and Mr. Reid (Chief) David, along with Gordon Bettles and Janne Underriner, taught a Klamath-Modoc language class. This was the beginning of the Tribes’ master-apprentice language program. Also during this time, another UO linguistics graduate student, Tim Thornes, worked through the Culture and Heritage program to document the Yahooskin Northern Paiute language of Mr. Irwin Weiser.

For the next few years the Klamath-Modoc master-apprentice team (Bobby David, Stephanie Ohles and Harold Wright) developed and implemented curriculum for K-3 learners, and developed and taught adult curriculum for the Tribes’ community classes and for summer Culture Camp. Janne and Judith Fernandes worked with the language program to develop Klamath-Modoc proficiency benchmarks and language teacher assessments, and Judith continued writing language assessments. The program expanded, others joining the team to develop curriculum and teach in programs at Chiloquin Elementary School and High School. The Klamath-Modoc language is being taught in Chiloquin and Klamath Falls schools today.

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