Native Language Cummunity Coordination

“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”
‒ Oliver Wendell Holmes

January 2019

We hope you enjoy this update from the NLCC Training and Technical Assistance Center. Please direct any questions or feedback to Cree Whelshula at


“The Australian Bureau of Statistics released research highlighting the benefits of maintaining Indigenous languages to enhance young peoples’ wellbeing. The research found that young people who spoke an Indigenous language - almost half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in remote areas between the ages of 15 to 24 [sic] were less likely to participate in high-risk drinking and drug abuse than those young people who did not speak a traditional language.”

Resource cited:

Commonwealth Parliament, and Parliament House. House of Representatives Committees. Home – Parliament of Australia, CorporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; Address=Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600; Contact=+61 2 6277 7111, 2 Apr. 2014,

What’s New?

Here at NLCC, we are working diligently to prepare for the Semi-Annual Convening coming up in February. In honor of the Yurok Tribe who will be hosting us, we will be incorporating a Yurok tradition to honor our ancestors. A fire will be lit in memory of all those who came before us. Victoria Carlson will lead us through this ceremony. We respectfully suggest that all NLCC recipients who join bring a medicine from your tribe to place into the fire as a blessing.

Upcoming Events

Semi-Annual Convening

February 5 through 7, 2019 (travel days on Feb. 4 and Feb. 8)

DoubleTree by Holiday Inn Express Klamath
Redwood National Park Area
171 Klamath Blvd
Klamath, CA 95548

Stay tuned for the convening agenda and a travel letter explaining about the hotel registration. More will be discussed during the monthly cohort call on January 8, 2019.

Webinar: Immersion Tips, Tricks & Strategies

February 20, 2019

Registration information coming soon! We will be setting aside 10 registration spots for the NLCC cohort so, keep an eye out for your special invitation.

Language and Culture are One

A Rope to Hang Onto

Contribution by Julie Simpson, Lead ECEAP Teacher, Salish School of Spokane

Julie Simpson

Julie started learning language when she worked at Inchelium Head Start around 2003 as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teacher. The Colville Confederated Tribes had an Administration for Native Americans (ANA) language grant, and the Language Program partnered with the Head Start Program to teach ECE Teachers the nslxcin language. The classes were taught by LaRae Wiley and the goal was to move toward immersion classrooms within the Head Start Program.

A few years later Julie’s husband passed away and she moved to Spokane to take a break. After 6 months, LaRae Wiley heard she was in Spokane and asked Julie to work for her at the Salish School of Spokane. Julie says, “At that moment, when Scott passed away, I was grasping for something to hang onto. The language gave me that rope to hang onto something. LaRae caught me at the right moment. It saved my life.”

Teaching immersion was new to Julie, but once she was able to see how quickly the children learned she thought it was the coolest thing. She was happy to see that the children, “were able to know, at an early age, who they are.” Julie enjoys watching the kids learn a new word and use it and how their eyes light up. “The more they learn, the more you can see a change in them. To see them use those words, it’s just amazing.”

To Julie, language is just who she is. It’s part of her, her soul and spirit. nslxcin gives her a sense of identity and grounds her.

Art on the Mind

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

Painting by Louis F. Boyd, Colville Tribe Member

In every Native community, you will find an abundance of gifted and talented Native artists. These artistic gifts come in the form of painting, sewing, weaving, scultping, beading, singing, dancing, and so much more. Many Native artists draw inspiration from their heritage and celebrating our ancestral connection with nature. Art, in all its forms, is a practice that has deep roots within our cultures. Patterns found in baskets are often passed down from generation to generation; as if it’s a visual representation of our lineage. Whether it is traditional or modern art, indigenous communities value this practice.

We all know the sense of calm and tranquility that comes with seeing a beautiful piece of art or hearing a song that we enjoy. Researchers are unveiling what is happening in our brain while we experience art. The simple act of looking at a beautiful piece of visual art can actually increase the blood flow to your brain (“How…”). As blood carries oxygen to the brain, and as the art increases that blood flow, it results in improved cognition. In addition, both observing art and creating art lowers stress and improves mood. The creation of art can also improve the connection between different regions of the brain (Bolwerk).

As it pertains to language revitalization, art can be a meaningful way to learn language. It increases the brains ability to retain information and increases mood states that are conducive to learning (Bolwerk). Even if art is not the method of instruction for language, it could be useful to have it available in language classes. For example, students have access to coloring sheets or pattern grids with a variety of markers, pencils, or crayons that they can use to color while learning. In addition, creating a classroom environment with various works from Native artists displaying paintings, drawings, basketry, beadwork, or music in the background could be a first step towards art utilization in language learning.

Resources Cited:

Bolwerk, Anne, et al. “How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science,

“How Looking at Art Can Help Your Brain.” Ashford University, 24 May 2017,

Spiraled Curriculum

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

Spiraled curriculum is cycling back to the same topics or themes and continuously building upon knowledge of those themes and increasing the complexity of tasks and learning objectives. This type of curriculum is conducive to indigenous education, as our lifestyles were built around cycles of season.


Here are a few examples of how to use spiraled curriculum in an immersion school.

  • Using kindergarten for example, the first year of a fishing theme, children could learn about life cycles of fish from egg to adult, what they eat, what eats them. There might be a fishing center within the classroom that has magnetic fish of different varieties (rainbow trout, bass, salmon, etc.) with magnetic poles, spears, or nets to catch them with. They can use fish to count and sort. They can also keep a data log with what types of fish they “caught” and convert it to a simple graph at the end of the unit.
  • Using 3rd grade as an example, children will be building upon their existent knowledge from the years prior and adding complexity to it. This year, they might go into fish anatomy and explore gills, fins, scales, bones, and organs. They can build their own dipnet using basic knotting techniques, or build a fish trap. If there is a local creek with fish, they could set the fish traps and hypothesize on how many fish they might catch and why. Tribal programs such as Fish & Wildlife can assist in providing fish to cut up and demonstrate food storage techniques such as canning, drying, or smoking the fish to store for the winter while using safe food handling protocol. A great addition to the canning would be making it a service learning activity to where the canned fish is donated to local Tribal Elders, or Elder care programs.

Evaluation Proclamations

Qualitative Data Analyses

Contribution by Maria Griffin, NLCC Center Director, Dr. Gary Bess and Jim Myers, NLCC Language Evaluators

Most people have heard and know about quantitative data, but few recognize the term qualitative data. Qualitative data is information about the quality of an item not the measured feature or part of the information. In other words, “qualitative data DESCRIBES whereas quantitative data DEFINES” ( Language programs rely mostly on qualitative data from their teachers, students, and community participants to determine whether their program is providing quality language-knowledge transfer.

Three steps can be followed to benefit from the qualitative data that you likely have access to and have never thought about analyzing.

  1. Conducting a content analysis can transform qualitative material (words) into quantitative data for qualitative generalizations. It is a research technique used to validate deductions by interpreting and coding textual (written) material. Content analysis can be a process conducted by one person. However, having more than one person reviewing the data will likely yield findings that are more reliable. Findings from the content analysis will have to be agreed upon by those reviewing the content to be considered a “good” finding. Two types of content exist.
    • Manifest content is evidence that is directly seen, such as frequency of certain words or concepts in written materials, that enable you to count the number of references.
    • Latent content refers to the underlying meaning of the written materials reviewed, such as your interpretation of the underlying themes.

    To analyze the content of your material, try these three stages.

    • Conduct a systematic review of the selected written documents. Examples can include:
      • Timelines
      • Resource list
      • Promotional materials (flyers, posters, brochures)
      • Meeting minutes
      • Proposals
      • Letters
      • Participant comments (from surveys or questionnaires)
      • Presentations (oral and written (PowerPoint))
      • Reports
    • Focus on ideas being communicated, and in the case of minutes, for example, consider how they may change over time.
    • Look at similar words used, values stated, concerns expressed and later resolved, approaches taken, etc.
      By systematically evaluating texts (e.g., documents, oral communication, and graphics), and discovering similar words and phrases used, or recurrent themes expressed, qualitative data can be converted into quantitative data.
  2. “Unearth” surprise or investigated themes from the analyses.
  3. Summarize your findings in written form, with representative comments, where you can. Here’s an example of summarized data.

Respondents Perceptions of Impact

Respondents were asked to share their perceptions of how Venice Arts had impacted their life. Their written responses reflected three primary themes: (1) Venice Arts provided the opportunity to learn/gain knowledge in the arts: “VA encouraged me to make work, as well as supported healthy creative expression.” (2) Participation led to a future in the arts (art school, art careers): “I discovered my love for animation, and I’ve met great people who have supported my goals, and who still continue to support me.” (3) Relationships formed at Venice Arts were important to their overall experience: “Amazing mentors. I felt seen and heard.”

It may take some practice to be able to identify and code qualitative data, but once you have your themes, similar words, concepts, etc. identified, you will be able to provide a summary that supports your language program efforts.

Newsletter Info:

NLCC newsletter is a collaborative effort among the NLCC TTA Center staff and subcontractors, the NLCC Cohort, and the ANA. For year 3 of the grant, the newsletter is distributed on the 1st Thursday of the Month. Prior to the distribution, we ask the recipieints to provide highlights and to share information regarding their programs as we continue the implementation of this communication and resource tool. To learn more about NLCC and the NLCC TTA Center go to our website:

If you have any resources, events, or highlights you would like to share, please submit your information to Cree Whelshula at

Thank you for being part of this networking collaboration!

lemlmtš (Spokane Salish – Thank you)
Qe'ci'yew'yew' (Nimiipuu – Thank you)

Contact Info:

Cree Whelshula
NLCC Training and Technical Assistance Director

ANA: Administration for Native Americans

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