TILLAMOOK COAST HISTORY ALLIANCE: “Sleeping” Native Languages Awaken with Clatsop-Nehalem Language Reclamation Project

By Jeremy Millard, Clatsop-Nehalem Language Reclamation Project
ɬax̣ayam, nayka nim Young Blood or chxi pilpil (Hello, my name is Young Blood or chxi pilpil). My English name is Jeremy. I’m a Clatsop-Nehalem member and run the Clatsop-Nehalem Language Reclamation Project.  Clatsop-Nehalem Language in Clatsop is Tiā’k¡ēlakē Naē’lim t-qᵋilalawil. Both the Clatsop and Nehalem Tillamook languages are sleeping. I’m reawakening them and that is why I created this project. We also spoke Chinuk Wawa.

There is a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Clatsop-Nehalem-Language-Reclamation-Project-237855679612446 to provide more information and resources. So the page is devoted to all three. I didn’t grow up with Chinuk Wawa and so I’m learning it. I translated my Native name “Young Blood” into Chinuk Wawa as Tenas Pilpil but later learned that a better word, is chxi instead of tenas. You can find links to language materials and sound recordings. The Clatsop language went to sleep in 1943, with the passing of John Clipp,  and the Nehalem language in 1972 with the passing of Minnie Scovell. Thanks to Charles Cultee (Clatsop) with the help of Franz Boas (linguist), we have a good amount of Clatsop language material. Also with the help of other linguists and knowledge keepers too. We have sound recordings and language material for Nehalem Tillamook which came from language speakers like Minnie Scovell, Mabel Burns, etc. I also know that I have my Ancestors with me and are happy every time I speak it, even if my pronunciation is off. It is harder to use social media, etc and type in the tribal languages because of the special characters. But I’m hoping that will change soon. I get my drive from hearing stories of other Tribes like the Mashpee Wampanoag, reawakening the language after hundreds of years of it sleeping. None of our languages were 100 percent, preserved. So there are words that got lost as the language went to sleep. But it might be possible to make new words to help fill in voids as I’ve seen other Tribes do. Learning my peoples languages, helps strengthen my identity as Tiā’k¡ēlakē Naē’lim (Clatsop-Nehalem). I get no Federal or State funding for my project, I devote my own time and money towards it. It’s hard to find funding when your Tribe has no Federal or State Recognition, nor having a fluent speaker alive. That might discourage some, but not me. The first time I heard a recording of Nehalem being spoken, it was emotional. I’m always scouring the internet for language materials. If you happen to know of material pertaining the my tribal languages, please let me know, email to cnctlanguage@yahoo.com.

Below you will find some resources. Please like and share our page and help spread the word. Masi (Thank you).

Some Tribal Language resources:
http://talkingdictionary.swarthmore.edu/tillamook/

https://archive.org/details/dictionaryofchin00gibbrich

The mission of the Tillamook Coast History Alliance is to promote and support our history-based museums, societies and organizations in Tillamook County in order to better inform and educate the general public visiting or residing in the County. https://www.tchistoryalliance.org/