Loren (Me-lash-ne’) Bommelyn was a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics in the mid-1990s writing about his language, Tolowa Dee-ni’. Our relationship grew over the years, with Me-lash-ne’ teaching Tolowa at NILI Summer Institute, and NILI faculty working with the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation on teacher training, curriculum writing, technology applications and grant writing.
In 2011, the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and NILI received a Documenting Endangered Languages grant through the National Science Foundation to document the remaining first speakers of Tolowa. This brought Me-lash-ne’’s son, Pyuwa Bommelyn, to NILI to work on creating a Tolowa database. While at UO, Pyuwa received his Masters in language teaching in the Language Teaching Studies (LTS) program and served as a graduate employee at NILI.
Pyuwa continues to teach Tolowa at NILI Summer Institute along with his wife, Ruby Tuttle, who teaches classes in teaching methodology and materials development. They are both active in AICLS (Advocates for Indigenous California Survival). Another member of the Tribe is attending UO as an undergraduate student and is active in her language, learning Tolowa both at home and on the UO campus at NILI.