Our Language

Our traditions and our language are what make the Kalispel people who we are today. The language ties us to the land, our relations, and our past.

At the beginning of the millennium, with only a handful of Tribal elders who could speak fluent Salish, we were in danger of losing our native language.  In response, we have developed the Kalispel Language Program in an effort to reclaim and preserve our Salish Language, as well as create a new generation of native language speakers.

Our Language

Over the last several years, we have continued to strengthen and expand the program, and we are beginning to see our efforts pay off.  Before, Salish was only spoken at cultural events, such as funerals, wakes, memorials, and gatherings, and it was only spoken by our elders.  Now, you can hear it everywhere throughout the community. Through our Language efforts, a new generation of Salish speakers has given life to a part of our culture that was once in danger of extinction. We are doing our best to speak our language and teach everyday.

Throughout this path, we have made many friends and partners to help us along the way. With the help from Chris Parkin and the Salish School of Spokane, we have created a 6-level language acquisition path that is designed to take a person from “no-salish” to “pretty darn good” in 18 months. We have also developed many learning tools and Apps to supplement classroom instruction. Please visit the curriculum and language software pages to see what we have. 

Northwest Profiles: Saving Salish – Language Revival

Our Language Staff

JR Bluff

Language Director

(509) 447-7294

Jessie Isadore

Language Coordinator

(509) 447-7286

Stan Bluff

Salish Language Advisor

(509) 447-7203

Johnny Arlee

Salish Language Advisor

(509) 447-7280

Vickie Leach

Language Teacher I

(509) 447-7445

Christina Butler

Language Teacher I

Nalene Andrews

Immersion School Teacher

(509) 447-7463

Todd Ellingburg

Immersion School Administrator

(509) 447-7461

Alisha Athos

Immersion School Teacher

(509) 447-7445

Paul Renaud

Immersion School Teacher

(509) 447-7121

Dave Browneagle

Immersion School Teacher

Kalispel Language Survival School (ANA Grant)

The Kalispel Tribe was fortunate enough to receive an Esther Martinez Initiative Language Grant in 2018. This grant is designed to expand the current K-2 Kalispel Language Immersion School (Snyoyoʔspuʔúsm) to include grades 3-5. This 3-year grant entails creating grade 3-5 curriculum for math, science, and literacy; and training 3 new teachers to speak the Kalispel language so they can teach in the classroom. Project personnel are Melinda McCormick (Curriculum Expert), Lisa Hoisington (Certified Elementary Teacher), Chelsea Samuels (Associate Teacher), and Albert Thomas (Associate Teacher).

Albert Thomas

Associate Teacher

(509) 447-7475

Chelsea Samuels

Associate Teacher

(509) 447-7445

Melinda McCormick

Curriculum Expert

(509) 447-7134

Lisa Hoisington

Certified Elementary Teacher

(509) 447-7462