University of Oregon Donations – Northwest Indian Language Institute Celebrates 25 Years


Founded in 1997, the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) at the University of Oregon recently celebrated its 25th anniversary last June. Now, thanks to a recent grant from the Roundhouse Foundation, NILI will launch an initiative to analyze and rethink the needs for growth and expansion in the years to come.

“Over the years, NILI has grown to include a number of outreach projects supporting tribal language efforts,” said NILI Director Robert Elliot. “I am excited to embark on this new phase of expansion and growth.”

NILI has just concluded its Summer Institute Series for Language Revitalization Practitioners, this year consisting of two online courses and a learning series during the last two weeks of June, with four more online courses scheduled for this summer. The June courses covered online language teaching and an introduction to assessment.

A participant in the Summer Institute evaluation course said, “This course was beneficial to me because I gained a new understanding and knowledge of how to create effective evaluations and where I can contact me for assistance in making one. I can and will also share what I learned with teachers in our program who did not participate.

One of the highlights of the summer was the Tuxámshish Revitalization Learning Series, better known as TRails.

Taking place over nine days, the Tuxámshish Revitalization Learning Series honored Yakama Nation Elder, language expert, colleague and UO Tuxámshish faculty member Dr. Virginia Beavert.

Participants attended daily presentations and conversations led by experts from Indigenous communities. The theme for 2022 was “The Heart and Soul of Language Work”.

In the fall, with support from the Roundhouse Foundation, NILI will embark on a needs assessment process, exploring how language preservation needs have evolved among tribal nations and language revitalization practitioners since founding the organization in 1997, and sharing the results with tribal partners. . The needs assessment will take place over the next 15 months, during which NILI leadership will engage in conversations with language leaders from the nine federally recognized Oregon Tribes, Pacific Northwest Tribal Partners , as well as existing partners and founding members.

“Supporting tribal nations is central to our mission at The Roundhouse Foundation, and language preservation is essential to sustaining the heritage and culture of Indigenous cultures and tribal communities,” said Erin Borla, executive director and trustee of the Roundhouse Foundation. “NILI plays a vital role in this and as they enter the next phase of their organization, we are pleased to support their efforts to connect authentically with the tribal communities they serve so that they can understand in depth how to improve their program.”

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