Northwest Indian College receives First Nations' grant toward preserving Lummi cultural knowledge

The Northwest Indian College recently received a $19,000 grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado. This award will support the efforts of the NWIC’s Preserving Cultural Knowledge through Multi-Generational Interviews project.


The Coast Salish Institute of Northwest Indian College (NWIC) works on projects related to language, culture, and curriculum development. With grant funds, the Institute will document the conversational dialogue of Lummi tribal elders by making extensive digital recordings. The interviewers will be students from the Lummi Nation’s tribal high school as well as NWIC students. The Project Director will be the Director of the Coast Salish Institute and Institute staff will provide the training, supervision and evaluation of student interviewers. The purpose of the interviews is preservation of tribal knowledge related to language, oral history, storytelling, fishing, spiritual and cultural practices, plant lore, and more. These interviews will be
archived by Institute staff and students, utilized in the College’s curricula, and shared through relevant conferences and symposia.


This project serves Lummi high school students, NWIC students, and members of the Lummi community. There are very few speakers of the Lummi language alive today. With the recordings completed through this project, these precious resources will be preserved to the benefit of future generations of the Lummi people.


The Coast Salish Institute will develop evaluation tools based on procedures successfully used by the College and the Institute in the past. For the current project, this will include surveys completed by the elders who participate in the project, for feedback about the interview process. Institute staff will collect and compile the survey results. Students will be evaluated by the Institute Director on their interview skills as
reflected in the digital recordings. Additionally, a new model, The Indigenous Framework for Evaluation, that incorporates the traditional Native technique of storytelling as an evaluation technique, will inform how we assess the success of this project. Both students and staff will have responsibilities for collecting data.


The evaluation tools and processes to be utilized in this project will be developed and in effect by October 30, 2011. The Coast Salish Institute staff will share the results of the project’s evaluation with the NWIC faculty and staff as well as the Cultural Department of the Lummi Nation. This project evaluation information will be available, as will the digital archives, to interested Lummi community members.


NWIC is a 501(c)(3) accredited educational institution chartered by the Lummi Nation. A regional tribal college, we are the gateway to post-secondary education for over 40 tribes and 125,000 Indian people in our service area. We offer several certificates and Associate’s Degree programs and in 2007-08 began offering courses for a Bachelor of Science degree in Native Environmental Science. Our programs are grounded in
Coast Salish cultural values that operate within the arena of western education in support of our mission: Through education, Northwest Indian College promotes indigenous self-determination and knowledge.

For more information, contact Sharon Kinley, the Director of NWIC’s Coast Salish Institute, at 360-392- 4296 or