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Our Heritage > Language

The Athabaskan Language

Our Language is as old as time itself. For countless generations our people lived out their lives speaking our words. In all that time, our words were never written. They were carried in the hearts and minds of our ancestors. They were learned by each generation and in turn taught to the next. For all of our history up to the 1850’s our people prospered, by obeying the Laws of the Creator and living in balance with the land. With the arrival of the Europeans a tragedy began to unfold for our People, which in many ways extends to this day.

About the Language Program

The Siletz Language Program is directly focused on the regional Southwest Oregon/Northwest Californian Athabaskan language. Over the course of several years, work on the project has included developing a basic Language study program and actively teaching classes in Siletz, our three Area offices, and in the Siletz Valley School. We continue to partner with the Siletz Valley School to teach Language as well as Culture. Available in the Tribal Member Area section of this website are the Siletz Dee-ni Language Volumes 1, 2 & 3.

These three Language Volumes contain study materials consisting of voice recordings of words and sentences and hard copy PDF documents of the materials. They are available to Tribal members on CD disc and on the Tribal Member Area section of this website. Almost all of our people have access to the technology that will, in the long run, probably be one of our main teaching methods.

An Athabaskan Language Dictionary, “Nuu-wee-ya’” (Our words), has been compiled from many works over the last century and transliterated into the Practical Alphabet. It consists of roughly 400 pages and approximately 12,000 entries and reflects the dialectical differences of our Language. It is available in the Member Area section of this website. We also have a “Talking Dictionary” where users can select a word, click on an icon and hear the word being spoken. The link to this can be found on the Language page in the Member Area.

Tribal Member Resources

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View and download the Athabaskan language dictionary documents.

Class Schedule

Learn when classes are scheduled at the different office locations.

Study Materials

View the Siletz Dee-ni Language Volumes 1-3.

Contact Information

Language & Traditional Arts Instructor
Nick Viles
541-484-4234 ext. 1757