Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

May 13, 2010

$122k and counting

Nkwusm raises funds for language immersion school expansion

ARLEE - In 1991, four visionary young adults began a language immersion school here in an effort to increase the number of proficient Salish speakers after realizing they could only identify approximately 200 fluent Salish speakers. They have continually raced against time and now almost 20 years later, there are only 47 fluent Salish speakers remaining. The average age of a fluent speaker is 70 years young.

Nkwusm continues to educate youth despite funding woes and losing one of their teachers in November 2009, Sophie (Quequesah) Mays. Mays was a rare gem, a keeper and teacher of the Salish language.

Last week Nkwusm invited potential donors and supporters to Missoula for a luncheon fundraiser in an effort to amp up funds for the school to help with expansion efforts needed to house more staff and students.

“We raised $122 thousand and the money is still coming in,” says Nkwusmís newly hired development director Patty Stevens.

During the luncheon, staff and students shared their own personal stories of how knowing and not knowing the language has impacted their lives.

Twelve year-old Coral Sherman, the daughter of Amanda Louie and Robert Sherman, came to Nkwusm from Pablo Elementary School two years ago. She too, is a rare jewel like many of students at Nkwusm. Sherman told the audience that being at Nkwusm not only helped her learn her language, but to be surrounded by loving people who speak the language helped her to feel proud to be Indian. Sherman picked up Salish language easily and her annunciation of both Salish and English interpretations were infallible.

“I like getting up every morning now because I know Iím going to learn something and itís fun,” says Sherman.

It takes thousands of dollars to teach one child the Salish language. The Nkwusm Immersion School is recognized as a 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization and all donations to the school are tax-deductible. Currently Salish Kootenai College and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes offer payroll deductions for donations to the school and employees of both can authorize their payroll departments to send their contribution to the school.

In addition to the annual luncheon benefit for the school, they will host a silent auction during their powwow next Saturday, May 22, from 1pm-5pm. here at Nkwusm.

Anyone who is interested in visiting the school or to contribute a tax-deductible donation can call them at 726-5050 or visit them online at: salishworld.com where people can link to Youtube(r) to hear Coralís story, buy licensed Nkwusm gear, or to become familiar with the schoolís efforts.

The school is currently offering tours on Wednesday, May 26 and Tuesday, June 22, both beginning at 9:30 a.m. for those interested.

On the web: Salishworld.com

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