Manahuu I-dabuawu I-hiimȕ!
I know my face is not a new one, however, my position here as Language Coordinator is new. I have been working with OVCDC as a language teacher for 12 years, before that I was a contractor teaching language within the community and a bi-monthly class at Sherman Indian High School. I had been attending evening language classes with OVCDC’s Teacher, Norma Nelson, for approximately two years prior to becoming a contractor. If you’re counting, that means I’ve been here for a long time.
Language was always something I wanted to learn. I-kuno and I-huusti, the late Howard (Sabie) Meredith and Mishiola (Fredricks)Meredith, spoke to each other using dialects of Benton and Schurz, Nv. It always sounded so good to hear them speaking in Nüümü (even if they were trying to have a private conversation that they didn’t want us to understand).
I started learning one word for items around the home. After I had children I began to write many of these words down and label my home, in the hopes of learning the language. Like many people in the community I started my own dictionary of all the words I knew. Even though dictionaries can’t teach people to speak the language, it was very helpful to have a good base of words in the language that I knew. I shared these words with my children as much as I could, which gave them a good base when we began learning how to make sentences.
I remember thinking way back then, I should just quit my job, go on welfare (TANF not yet available) and spend all my time working with I-mu’a Maudini on the language. Being raised with such strong work ethics, I didn’t think it would be acceptable to go on welfare full time and the $50 more that I would earn working was necessary. When the first OVCDC Language classes started, and someone suggested, I don’t know who, maybe Norma Nelson, that they contact me to become a student, I was completely hooked!
The classes started out strong with approximately 25 students. As we continued to attend classes some of our fellow students dropped off until we were six, Gerald Lewis, Glenn Nelson, Sandra Warlie, Hazel (Daisy) Rambeau, Mary Davis and myself.
It was incredible how dedicated we were and how passionate we all were for our language. We had long heated and sometimes emotional discussions regarding our language. It was difficult at times but mostly incredibly satisfying! We all had the sentiment THIS IS WHAT WE WERE CREATED FOR!
With continued commitment,
Your New Inyo Language Coordinator,