NILI has partnered with the Culture and Heritage and Language Departments at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) since our founding in 1997. In the mid-1990s, Warm Springs teachers traveled to NILI’s “big sister” institution in Arizona, AILDI (American Indian Language Development Institute), and returned with a desire to have a similar program in the Pacific Northwest. Based on longstanding relationships with the UO linguistics department, Tribal teachers of Kiksht, Numu and Ichishkin approached UO Linguistics faculty about teacher training, and initiated the first NILI Summer Institute.
Warm Springs along with the Nine Tribes of Oregon, has been very active in state policy regarding Native languages. In 2001, Oregon Senate Bill 690 was passed by the Oregon State legislature, providing a special endorsement for Oregon’s Native language teachers, allowing for Native languages to be taught in Oregon’s public schools. Oregon Senate Bill 13, effective August, 2017, requires the teaching of American Indian/Alaska Native History & Sovereignty in K-12 public schools in Oregon.
Along with this legislation, NILI and the Tribe have worked together on a number of projects supporting teacher training and curriculum development. These include the Administration for Native Americans teacher training and a National Science Foundation documentation project. At the local school district level, we are working with CTWS on language teaching and assessment, and early learner literacy. The schools serving CTWS students have increased their commitment to Native language and culture in classes. This demonstrates the strong partnership the Tribe and the Culture and Heritage Department have built with supportive administrators.