Lushootseed is the language spoken by Coast Salish tribes in the greater Seattle area and north to Skagit River Valley near Bellingham and Whidbey Island, and south to Olympia and Shelton. In 1819, Congress passed the Civilization Fund Act to assimilate indigenous youth to western culture. The policy authorized forcible separation of indigenous children from their families to be sent to boarding schools far away, where they were to be stripped of their language, culture and religious practices. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that this practice was outlawed. This caused a severe disruption in likelihood for traditional practices and lifestyles to continue.
Today, members of these communities are reawakening their native tongue through education to everyone from 6 month olds, elementary and high school students and adults.
Jasmyne Diaz is an enrolled Tulalip member and shares a peek into her work of teaching Lushootseed language as a Teacher Assistant to six-month to two-year old children in Tulalip, Washington through the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Program
Producers: Laura Florez and Yuko Kodama