The Spokane, Washington, Spokesman Review carried a lengthy story on February 18, 2007, about the work of modern members of the Nez Perce tribe to preserve their language, at least in dictionary form. Saving languages of North American native tribes is a difficult task in this century, with so many native speakers old and dying, and younger tribe members not learning the language.
This story involves the Joseph Band of the tribe, including direct descendants of Chief Joseph, whose epic battle against the U.S. Army and mid-winter flight to Canada are included in most U.S. history books, as part of the 11th-grade history standards.
Now you, and your students, can know the rest of that story.
Caption from the newspaper: Agnes Davis, 82, is the daughter of the last recognized chief of the Joseph Band of the Nez Perce tribe. She and a few others from her tribe are spending countless hours working to preserve a dialect of Nez Perce. (Colin Mulvany The Spokesman-Review)
- Biography of Chief Joseph at PBS website, “The West”
- “Chief Joseph Speaks,” PBS website, “The West”
- Nez Perce Tribe website
- Nez Perce Tribe Language Program
- Nez Perce National Historical Park
- e-museum feature at Mankato State University, Minnesota