"There's a lot of wisdom in my language. I can talk for two minutes and say what I would have to say in ten minutes in English."

Pat Pierre Salish language instructor

Send an ePostcard

Click on image if you would like to send a greeting to a friend in a Native American Language.

Salish Language Institute (Nkwusm) and Snïiiïo Salish Immersion Preschools

Arlee, Montana

imgMost of the elders who speak Salish are now over 75 years old; there are no fluent first language speakers under the age of 50. Founded a decade ago, the Nkwusm school in Arlee, Montana, is dedicated to creating a new generation of Salish speakers. Nkwusm instructs their students in songs, games, stories, and other traditional knowledge handed down over the millennia. In pre-K through eighth grade immersion classes, math, language arts, social studies, and science are all taught in the Salish language. It is the only comprehensive Salish language program in the world.

The Bitterroot Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes once each held their own traditional territories throughout parts of northwestern Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and British Columbia. The Salish were removed from their homeland in the Bitterroot valley after a long struggle to remain. With the 1855 Treaty of Hellgate with the U.S. government, the three tribes became a Confederacy now located on the Flathead reservation, and maintain a collective sovereign tribal government. Because their parents, grandparents and ancestors struggled to sustain and preserve their identities, elders today are able to pass on Salish language and cultural heritage to children who will carry this precious knowledge into the future.

Post Your Comment

Did You Know ...

There are forty-seven tribes speaking twenty-seven different distinct dialects of Salish, a language family that stretches west from Montana to the Pacific coast and north into British Columbia, including most of Washington and northern Idaho.

With fewer than fifty fluent speakers, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead reservation in northwestern Montana are the largest Salish speaking community in the world.

Other Language Programs

Explore more Native American communities and their tribal language programs by clicking on the links below.

Help Us Spread
The Word