Our language is critically endangered with fewer than 50 fluent Elders remaining. The Syilx Nation stretches across the Interior Plateau from Revelstoke BC to northern Washington. N̓syilxčn̓ is an Interior Salish language. There are seven Syilx communities (Bands) in Canada: Okanagan Indian Band OKIB, Westbank First Nation WFN, Penticton Indian Band PIB, Osoyoos Indian Band OIB, Lower Similkameen Indian Band LSIB, Upper Similkameen Indian Band USIB, Upper Nicola Indian Band UNIB. Syilx members in the U.S. are represented by the Colville Confederated Tribes CCT (WA), which has 12 tribes including five N̓syilxčn̓ speaking tribes, the Sinixt (Sn̓ʕay̓čkstx Arrow Lakes), Mətxʷu Methow, Nspil̓m̓ Nespilem, Sn̓pʕaw̓ilx Sanpoil, and Sx̌ʷy̓iłp Colville nation members.
Students completed a four-year fluency program
The four-year program was delivered at SLH in Penticton BC. Students completed 1,600 hours in four years and achieved speaking fluency - an amazing success story. Students travelled from their communities to attend. SLH partners with the Penticton Indian Band, Westbank First Nation, Osoyoos Indian Band, First Peoples Culture Council, and in-kind contributions from OKIB, LSIB, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
Salish School of Spokane (Paul Creek) Salish curriculum is cutting edge and follows a proven fluency model (www.interiorsalish.com).
Next (Nest) steps - the 2020 Plan
Graduating students are teachers of new cohorts of learners. Our dream is to expand to several full immersion workplaces by 2024. OIB started a 4-year fluency program at the OIB Language House in September 2019. SLH formed a partnership with Ti Kwu Ti Xilx Indigenous Association (TKI) in October 2019. Together they deliver an in-house fluency program which includes adult fluency for their staff, and fluency for toddlers, following an immersion language nest model created by the Salish School of Spokane.
Board of Directors:
C̓uc̓uʔasq̓t Pamela Barnes
St̓aʔqʷálqs Hailey Causton
C'ərtups Carmella Alexis
Stxt̓am̓ Kim Kosik
Pk̓am̓ Dustin Schmauder
Teachers in Years 1 & 2:
Goya da Yensdih Tiana Louis
Sn̓paʔqcín Dawn Machin
St’aʔqʷálqs Hailey Causton
Mlmltiłpálqʷs Monika Alexis
X̌astítkʷ Jolene Michel
A peek into our classroom
In June 2019, 8 warriors graduated as new speakers. All were fully supported by their workplace from the beginning. The program started in September 2015 with 14 language warriors, supported by Westbank First Nation, Penticton Indian Band, Sensisyusten School (WFN), Osoyoos Indian Band, School District 23 (Kelowna), and SLH, and some were volunteers. Students commuted to class from PIB, WFN, Kelowna, OKIB, and OIB.
C’arís Jordan Coble WFN
Nx̌əx̌sítatkʷ Shayla Allison LSIB
Pqlqin Maynard McRae USIB
Qʷayqʷʕayáx̌n Levi Bent LSIB (teacher)
Skalúla Tyler Ernst USIB
Suxʷkłʔúclm Sonya Jensen OIB
Sq'aʔx̌əx̌ínak Sheri Stelkia OIB
Sʔímlaʔxʷ Michele Johnson OKIB (teacher)
Two and Three-year graduates
Xaʔtma Sqilxʷ Flynn Wetton WFN
St’aʔqʷálqs Hailey Causton WFN
Sn̓paʔqcín Dawn Machin OKIB
Sk̓awílx Sarah Alexis OKIB
Səxʷt̓ums Krista Lindley OKIB
Elder recording and editing session with Kiʔláwnaʔ Andrew McGinnis. Left to right: Sʔímlaʔxʷ, Nx̌əx̌sítatkʷ, Qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n, C̓ris, Skalúlaʔ.
We are so grateful to Kiʔláwnaʔ and all the Elders who shared their recordings.