9979 - Contemporary Indigenous Language Amongst the Swinomish Indian People

This paper shares the voices of contemporary Lushootseed speakers through the eyes of a young Swinomish Tribal member. Within the paper, interviews with contemporary speakers are shared to show how Lushootseed has transgressed to the present day. Examining the impact that Lushootseed has on the history of the Swinomish people, I look at messages the language brings through storytelling, the historical trauma speakers and their family face through the boarding school era, the implications of the Treaty of Point Elliott and the Swinomish Reservation as well as new generations of Lushootseed speakers and their future. The paper includes a personal narrative from the author about the desire to learn Lushootseed in a time where most fluent speakers are from older generations and are few in number. I wish to shed light on how identity is formed through feeling ownership over one’s own Native language. I look to various linguists to analyze the importance of language for a culture as well as the process of revitalizing an Indigenous language. Ultimately, this paper takes a look at several tribal members and goes into their life experiences, shaping how one views language as sacred. I wish to share experiences and progress.

Keywords: Indigenous, Language, Swinomish, Lushootseed, Native

Author: Paul, Katherine (Lewis & Clark College, Ud States of Am / USA)


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