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Masters of Marine Affairs awarded FLAS in Nuu-chah-nulth

September 3, 2020

Lindsey Popken, M.A. student Marine Affairs is researching sea otters and gaining proficiency in Nuu-chah-nulth.

Lindsey Popken is a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow for this past summer 2020 and for the 2020-21 academic year. She is a first year M.A. student in Marine Affairs in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, who is enamored with sea otters and committed to assisting in the Indigenizing of sea otter conservation. Lindsey is presently working with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s Fisheries Department to co-develop her thesis project. The project will enhance Nuu-chah-nulth self-determination over the management of their marine resources, while also working towards a more harmonious relationship between sea otters and First Nations.

This summer Lindsey studied Nuu-chah-nulth via zoom from Seattle with an instructor based in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Dr. Adam Werle teaches Nuu-chah-nulth for the Indigenous Language Programs at University of Victoria and for the Quuquuatsa Language Society on Vancouver Island. His summer course included about 10 Nuu-chah-nulth students, Lindsey and two others from University of Washington including Charlotte Coté, Professor in the Department of American Indian Studies.

“The most valuable and enriching aspect of this summer’s FLAS experience has been building relationships with my Nuu-chah-nulth classmates, who have been so welcoming and have made the language learning environment feel very supportive and exciting, says Lindsey. “Learning Nuu-chah-nulth is a privilege that affords me an opportunity to understand potential context that can only be derived from learning the language that can help guide my thesis, as well as showing respect for the Nuu-chah-nulth nations that are me allowing to work with and learn from them as a non-Indigenous woman.”

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations traditional territory is on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Just over 4,000 people identify as Nuu-chah-nulth (2016 Census).

This fall Lindsey will continue her studies in Nuu-chah-nulth. Joshua Griffin, Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of American Indian Studies and School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, chairs her committee.