The partnership between NILI and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) has developed over many years. CTUIR elders and speakers were instrumental in creating NILI in 1997, but the relationship with the UO predates NILI by more than a decade. Dr. Noel Rude, a graduate of the Department of Linguistics at UO (1985) who wrote his dissertation on Nez Perce grammar and discourse, became CTUIR’s linguist in the mid 1990s, and worked with CTUIR elders and language program for over twenty years to document and revitalize all three languages. CTUIR tribal members, who are the Tribe’s Education Director, teachers and administrators, are graduates of UO’s linguistic and education departments. Members of the language program have been Ichishkíin language instructors and consultants at NILI’s Summer Institute. CTUIR is instrumental in promoting Ichishkíin language learning across the area with other Ichishkíin speaking tribes. Perhaps the most visible aspect of this is the Language Knowledge Bowl they host yearly; a challenging, inspiring and fun competitive event at which UO Ichishkíin students and instructors assist.
Over the years, NILI and CTUIR have collaborated on numerous projects. A recent example is the eBook project. NILI faculty collaborated with teachers and students at Nixyaawii Community School, their Tribal high school, to create multimedia materials in one of the indigenous languages that the small children in the immersion preschool could use. Over a period of two years, multiple trips were made to CTUIR, a small library of eBooks were developed, and several Nixyaawii youth took part in NILI Summer Institute. The team, including several Nixyaawii students, traveled to national conferences, such as the National Indian Education Association conferences in Alaska and Portland, where they presented on the project.