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Category:   E-InfoReq
Subject:   Certification for teachers of indigenous languages.
From:   Armelle Denis
Email:   denisa_(on)_ucs.orst.edu
Date received:   11 Dec 2000

Greetings, My name is Armelle Denis, I am a grad student at Oregon State University working with the Warm Springs Confederated Tribes of Oregon on language maintenance. The Warm Springs have three languages: Wasco (the last remaining Chinookan language, described among others by Boas and Sapir), Sahaptin (a Penutian language) and Northern Paiute (the northernmost language of the Uto-Aztecan family). All three are greatly endangered, especially Wasco and Paiute which count only 5 to 10 native speakers on the reservation, all of them old or getting old. The Warm Springs have made the decision to preserve all three languages by teaching them in the local elementary school. So far they have operated on tribal funds and done without proper certification. However, if they want to pursue teaching their languages in non-reservation middle and high schools, they are going to need to get some kind of state certification. Our current approach relies on the status of Native American tribes as sovereign nations. We want to argue in front of state officials that community recognition of individuals' linguistic abilities and talents for teaching constitutes sufficient certification, and that by virtue of their sovereignty, the tribes do not need state control over the education of their children. I have not been able to find much on the topic of certification for teachers of indigenous languages, but I'd be interested to know the approaches other tribes confronted with that issue have adopted. Has anybody else argued along the lines of sovereignty and how did that work? What other solutions have been devised? Hoping to hear from linguists around the world, Sincerely, Armelle Denis, denisa_(on)_ucs.orst.edu
 

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