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Lushootseed Language Event

Monday, October 3 from 4-6 p.m.

Panelists: Dr. Tami Hohn, McKenna Dorman, Nancy Jo Bob, Ken Workman, Eileen Richardson, and Valerie Bellack

In partnership with the University of Washington

Learn about the unique qualities of the Lushootseed language, the cultural importance of the language, and the various language revitalization efforts happening at schools, organizations, families, tribes, and institutions across the Puget Sound. The event will begin with a special welcome from Ken Workman, the Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson of Chief Seattle. Panelists include Lushootseed teachers and speakers from various Coast Salish tribes.

Meet the Panelists

Valerie Bellack

Nancy Jo Bob

McKenna Sweet Dorman

Dr. Tami Hohn

Eileen Richardson

Ken Workman

About the Lushootseed Language

"Lushootseed is a language spoken by various indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. It is a member of the Salish language family, which is comprised of approximately twenty surviving languages. While Salish languages are spoken from central British Columbia to Northern Oregon, Lushootseed is the indigenous language of much of Western Washington. It was historically spoken from Olympia in the south up through Skagit in the north, and spread as far east as the Cascade Mountains. Lushootseed has two prominent dialects, Northern Lushootseed and Southern Lushootseed. The name Lushootseed is itself a combination of two words meaning “Salt Water” and “Language”, and refers to both the Northern and Southern dialects. Below is a map of the area the various tribes of Washington State once inhabited, along with the languages they spoke.

At one point in time, Lushootseed was spoken by approximately twelve thousand people across the greater Puget Sound area. Though the language was once prominent in the region, it underwent a sharp decline after the Treaty of Point Elliott. The decline was largely brought about when thousands of young Native Americans were forced to attend boarding schools in the 1880’s through the 1920’s. In a concerted effort of forced assimilation, these boarding schools punished the use of Lushootseed, and as a result the language experienced a severe decrease in speakers. This was only made worse by economic pressures, as English was the language required to find work during this period in time."


"The names for Lushootseed varies between the tribes. They include:  

  • dxʷləšucid for the Tulalip/Snohomish and all other Lushootseed tribes to the north 
    xʷəlšucid for Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie 
    txʷəlšucid for all other tribes 

Lushootseed was originally spoken by several groups. The Northern groups included: Swinomish, Skagit, Upper Skagit, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Skykomish. The Southern groups include: Suquamish, Duwamish, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Nisqually and Squaxin. The two primary dialects of Lushootseed are Northern Lushootseed and Southern Lushootseed. The boundary between the two dialects is roughly the Snohomish and King County lines north of Seattle."


Lushootseed Language Map bun5ue

Language map from