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First Annual FLAS Reception and Indigenous languages

Five FLAS fellows stand in front of a JSIS banner.
Five FLAS fellows spoke of the value of the FLAS fellowship to their personal and academic development. From left, Abdulwajid “Wahidi” Abdulwahid, MA student, International Studies–South Asia Studies, South Asia Center, Urdu; Muhammad Abdulqayumov, MA student, International Studies—REECAS, Center for Global Studies, Turkish and South Asia Center, Persian; Thyda Ros, MSW Social Work, Southeast Asia Center, Khmer; Julia Williams, BA Political Science and Chinese, Department of Political Science/Department of Asian Languages and Literature, Center for Global Studies and East Asia Center, Chinese; Reuben Martinez, MA student, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, College of the Environment, Canadian Studies Center, Nuu-chah-nulth.

January 19, 2023

Earlier this month the Title VI Centers in the Jackson School hosted a reception to celebrate the current FLAS fellows including a presentation partially delivered in Nuu-chah-nulth.

The 1st Annual Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Reception was held on January 6th at the University of Washington to celebrate the Summer 2022 and 2022-23 academic year fellows. The Title VI Centers in the Jackson School of International Studies awarded a total of 57 FLAS fellowships to students representing 12 departments in Arts and Sciences and seven professional schools. Awards were made in 17 unique languages including three languages supported by the Center—French, Haida and Nuu-chah-nulth. Reuben Martinez (Makah) and a first-year master’s student in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, was one of the five fellows to speak at the reception:

kuʔałʔaƛma yaałapi ḥaw̓eeł. ƛ̓eekoo waamaaḥ kaƛḥakʔi ʔaḥ. ƛułukʷeʔic n̓aas. saaci ̓̌nk̓iʔaała hiišił hupii— tatiiłʔi, ʔuusy̌aam̓inḥ ̓ʔi, yaʔaayaqḥy̓uqas. ƛ̓eekoomeʔicʔaała čuu.*

Thank you for today. Your day is good. Always help everyone—the sick, those in trouble, and my relatives. Thank you, Amen.

ʔukłaamaḥ nanoopi. My name is Reuben.

histaqšiƛaḥ Neeyaa,

ʔuḥukʷaḥ ʔumʔiiqsu ši?oš?ti-do,

ʔuḥukʷaḥ nuwiiqsu Marty.

I come from Neah Bay. My parents are Rita (Traditional name) and Marty Martinez.

There are many reasons for wanting to learn a second language, reasons that will differ from person to person, be it for an academic insight, study abroad, or even personal or political reasons; but at the end of the day language is what connects humans together.

My reason for studying Nuu-chah-nulth is rather unique, both personally and politically. I’m a Tribal member of the Makah Nation. For those who are unaware of where that is, it is on the very northwestern tip of Washington. I’m incredibly fortunate in being able to call this beautiful, scenic place my ancestral home.

The Makah people belong to the larger “Nuu Chah Nulth” culture, being the southernmost relatives of the Nuu-chah-nulth communities. However, my community, Makah Nation or qwidichcha-aht “people by the rocks and seagulls”, is located in what is now the United States, on the other side of the border from our Nuu-chah-nulth relatives. My family says we used to visit all the time, but this changed with the international border.

Unfortunately, the Makah Language is considered extinct as our last fluent speaker passed away in 2002. While there are many amazing Makah People working to revitalize the language, I never had the opportunity to learn how to speak my language until now.

This summer was the first time I was able to return to my relations in Vancouver Island, for the purpose of the Summer Intensive language program. As Language can re-connect humans together, I feel honored to have been able to learn the East Barkly Sound dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth and by doing so, bridge relations with my Tseshaht cousins, our Nuu-chah-nulth relatives “the people of the mountains and the coast.”

Learning Nuu-chah-nulth and visiting Port Alberni, British Columbia, was the most rich, and enjoyable experience I had over the summer. I received a personal tour of the rez’ by Charlotte Coté and got to witness all of the beautiful art around town. She, and the rest of the community did an amazing job making me feel welcome. I got to make many new friends. The field course improved my language ability ten-fold compared to what it was pre-trip. The most soul filling though, was being able to experience a place, perhaps my ancestors would have visited 200 years in the past.

The Canadian Studies Center is a recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships program grant. The grant provides allocations of academic year and summer fellowships to assist meritorious graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and Canadian Studies. The Canadian Studies Center is extremely proud in having awarded several Fellowships in least-commonly taught Canadian Aboriginal languages including Inuktitut, Dane-zaa, Musqueam Salish, and Anishinaabemowin.