Congratulations to Grand Ronde’s official Chinuk Wawa biliterates! And its immersion preschool.

One of the most successful language revitalization movements in the Pacific Northwest shows even more progress.I’m talking about the big sustained effort to get people speaking Chinuk Wawa, largely with the help of the Grand Ronde Tribes of Oregon.

Now, 3 tribal members who recently graduated from Willamina High School have been certified by Oregon’s governor as being “biliterate” in Chinuk Wawa. This is equivalent to high proficiency in a family’s home language, or in a world language such as French or Japanese.


Beneath the headline about this in the Grand Ronde tribal newspaper, there’s news that may be far more important for the long term:

At least two of the young adults just certified are products of the tribe’s immersion preschool!

It’s tremendously crucial for a language to be spoken by kids from earliest childhood, to insure that there will be future generations of speakers.

On that point, I urge you to take the few minutes to watch a video. My friend Dale McCreery, an extraordinary learner and teacher of Michif, Nuxalk, and Chinuk Wawa, has a great talk (“Michif Rant” is the title) about all that’s needed for a community to safeguard the future of its language.

To me it seems that Grand Ronde has managed to meet a number of the requirements that Dale, from his experience, sees as necessary for nurturing a heritage language. More people, keeping up the effort, will always be needed, but much of the foundation is laid.

Grand Ronde’s biliterates and kids who have grown up talking Jargon are a fantastic start…

What do you think?