Lane Community College has offered classes in a northwest tribal language for about 10 years. This week, the board of education considered cutting the program because of budget shortfalls. But, the board voted 5-1 this week to keep it.
Chinuk Wawa is a regional language spoken by many tribes in the Pacific Northwest. Drew Viles is with the American Indian Language Program at LCC. He says as a Siletz tribal member, he feels it’s important to keep native languages from dying.
Viles: “Indigenous languages, many of them, virtually all of them, in this area are on the endangered list for languages and Chinuk Wawa is one of them.”
The board voted to reinstate the program after 32 people spoke in support of the language classes.
Viles: “There’s hope. We’re about to register for fall term classes. Chinuk Wawa 101 will be on that list. It might not get cut if we have more enrollment. In fact in might expand.”
Lane Community College is in the midst of difficult budget discussions. There is a shortfall because of reduced enrollment and state funding.