Photo above: Dr. Virginia Beavert, Yakima elder; credit: Torsten Kjellstrand

Grant supports collaborative work with Native populations
to strengthen language preservation

“The landscape of Indigenous language has shifted into a new phase…Support from The Roundhouse Foundation has made it possible for us to create an action plan for language revitalization.”
— Robert Elliott of The Northwest Indian Language Institute

The Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) has received a grant from The Roundhouse Foundation, which supports innovative programs in Oregon’s rural communities, to launch an initiative to analyze and re-envision the needs that NILI will address as the organization moves into the future. Now in its 25th year, NILI will be exploring how language preservation needs have shifted among Tribal Nations and language revitalization practitioners since the organization was founded. During the analysis, which will launch this summer and be conducted over approximately 15 months, NILI leadership will initiate conversations with language leaders from the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon, Tribal partners throughout the Pacific Northwest, and existing partners and founding members.

“After 25 years, the landscape of Indigenous language has shifted into a new phase, and our in-depth analysis will help us strengthen relationships as well as evaluate the essential needs that Native communities now have when it comes to preserving this important part of their culture and history,” said Robert Elliott of NILI. “We expect that we will find an increased openness to the use of technology to support language learning, and a renewed emphasis on the overall benefits of youth involvement in Native language programs. Support from The Roundhouse Foundation has made it possible for us to collaborate even more deeply with these communities and create an action plan for language revitalization for the next 25 years.”

The new grant awarded by The Roundhouse Foundation will enable NILI to complete the needs analysis in an ideal fashion, to support and evaluate the work thoroughly and to visit Tribal partners throughout Oregon in person and further build relationships in a culturally appropriate manner. In addition to in-person information gathering, NILI will use online tools to collect input from past program participants and colleagues outside the Pacific Northwest. The analysis will culminate in winter 2023 with a final report that will serve as a roadmap for the next phase of the Institute.

“Supporting Tribal Nations is a core part of our mission at The Roundhouse Foundation, and language preservation is essential to supporting the heritage and culture of Indigenous cultures and Tribal communities,” said Erin Borla, executive director and trustee for The Roundhouse Foundation. “NILI serves a critical role in this arena and, as they move into the next phase of their organization, we are happy to support their efforts to authentically connect with the Tribal communities they serve so they may deeply understand how to enhance their program.”

NILI will also hold its annual Summer Institute online once again this year due to lingering pandemic-related concerns and to protect invaluable elders and knowledge bearers. With three course offerings for Indigenous language teachers and learners from which to choose, Summer Institute runs June 21-July 1, 2022. Additionally there are two post-Summer Institute courses running July 11-August 26. For more information about summer offerings and registration visit the NILI website:

Published On: June 15th, 2022 / Categories: Featured Grant Stories, Grant News /