Language for the people of Nixyáawii, the place of many springs, is a way of life and being. Within the phrases and words of our language is the history of our people and the strength and emotion of our tribal community.
By tapping into the knowledge of our fluent speakers, we are working to recapture our language for the benefit of generations to come. Our CTUIR Language Program is dedicated to recording fluent speakers, archiving language material, making language accessible for all tribal members and teaching the languages of Umatilla, Walla Walla and Weyíiletpuu (Cayuse) to all ages.
Umatilla Language Dictionary
Today, the Umatilla Dictionary is now available for language learners—from fluent speakers who want access to the written language, and beginners who speak English-first, to students learning the Native language at varying levels. We’re pleased that this resource, years in the making, is ready for purchase by those looking to deepen their language skills and connect with our rich heritage.
Dialects Distinct, But Connected
The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla were confederated under the Treaty of 1855, yet each maintains a distinct heritage and unique dialect. Throughout history, several CTUIR dialects have been spoken.
Today, speakers of all levels speak Umatilla and Walla Walla. The Umatilla language is the southern Sahaptin dialect and the Walla Walla is the northeast dialect of Sahaptin. Weyíiletpuu is a dialect of the Nez Perce language as used by the Cayuse people. A distinctive dialect of the Cayuse people has not been used since the 1940’s and is designated as extinct.
The CTUIR Language Program will work towards revitalization of the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Weyíiletpuu languages. And will preserve, retrieve, document, teach and increase or restore language usage to tribal English-first speakers and beginner native language speakers and wholeheartedly involve all fluent speakers to their full capacity.