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Monday, October 3, 4-6pm 

wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – UW Intellectual House 


In partnership with the University of Washington 

Panelists: Dr. Tami Hohn, Nancy Jo Bob, McKenna Dorman  

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. Panelist will be Lushootseed teachers and speakers from various Coast Salish tribes.  


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.