NESPELEM – By unanimous decision, the Colville Business Council approved Phonetic Writing Systems for the three tribal languages of the Colville Confederated Tribes, during Special Session, Dec. 5.

“When I first started, we had many discussions together with the elders and staff,” said Colville Tribal Language Program’s Michelle Sirios in CBC’s Culture Committee, Dec. 5. “This is one of the most important issues that has been brought forward. It is to make our languages official… They’ve been asking for years to adopt our phonetic system. It is essential in protecting our language and culture. Bringing forward this proposal to adopt a phonetic system for each of our languages will ensure that our languages are kept pure and that we are the official languages. Essentially, this proposal will provide protection that our languages deserve.”

The systems are derived from the American Phonetic Alphabet, according to the resolution.

Along with the recommendation, Sirios read the following statement: “The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation approves by resolution the adoption and usage of the following, specific phonetic system of each respective language, titoqatímt, nxaʔamxčín and nsəlxcín derived from the American Phonetic Alphabet. The Standand Salish ortography is the writing system, which is derived from the American Phonetic Alphabet, used by both nsəlxcín and nxaʔamxčín languages. Since these two languages are distinct languages, it utilizes a different number of characters unique for each language. Similarly, titoqatímt is derived from the APA but only utilizes 37 characters. Collectively, titoqatímt, nxaʔamxčín and nsəlxcín ortography does not recognize capitalization.”

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