Did you know there is only one public college where students can study Chinuk Wawa? It’s Lane Community College!
Chinuk Wawa is an Indigenous language of our region. Historically it was a language of intertribal and intercultural communication, and currently it is being revitalized as the heritage language of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Chinook Indian Nation.
LCC and Grand Ronde have been collaborating on this academic program since 2006, offering a two-year program of academic study, CW101-203. Our language courses are accepted for university credit, meeting graduation requirements in World Languages, and they make possible College Now offerings to high schoolers as well.
LCC Chinuk Wawa students gather on Zoom from all across our region, including students from many parts of Oregon and Washington, as well as from throughout the Northwest and beyond. In Fall 2023, 47% of the students in our three sections of CW101 and 201 are Indigenous people, mostly from Pacific Northwestern tribes. Classes are multigenerational, with students aged 15 to 81. Often family members take the course together: mothers and daughters, siblings, and cousins study on Zoom, sometimes across great physical distances. Tribal council members study together with people recently rediscovering their heritage and people with little knowledge of northwest Indigenous peoples. Chinuk Wawa student cohorts become family, taking care of each other through life’s ups and downs and often staying in contact long after they complete the two-year program.
LCC’s Chinuk Wawa language program needs your support!
Enrollment has increased since we moved the classes online, and students have been generous with each other and with our program. Still, budgets are tight these days, and we are asking for your help.
For many years we have been able to provide a full tuition scholarship for CW103 and CW203 to students who complete the first two terms of each year. This scholarship both honors our credit students' two terms of academic success and helps with third-term retention. Until now, the “spring term scholarship” has been funded by an annual gift from a single donor, but now we have grown beyond this single gift. In order to keep providing tuition scholarships for CW103 and CW203, we need to raise $7,000 this year.
We are also dreaming big!
We are looking for partners who can help us create further learning and mentorship opportunities for future teachers of Chinuk Wawa. There also may be endowment possibilities that would stabilize and strengthen the program. If you are interested, please get in touch!
We are also dreaming of class field trips, cultural exchange visits, and professional development for instructors. Once we fund our spring scholarship, any extra funds raised in our current campaign can go to these “extras” that make learning more dynamic and engaging for students and teachers alike. Language learning takes dedication and deep cultural exploration; every spark we're able to add can help the students and the program thrive. If you can support our project, your help will be greatly appreciated!
Top of page photo credit: Amiran White