Virginia Beavert, a Yakama elder from Toppenish, Washington, is working on a project that is “very important and meaningful” to her because “it will help to preserve both my culture and my language,” she says on the Kickstarter page for it.
The 93-year-old wants to record traditional legends in both Sahaptin and English. Sahaptin is a Plateau Penutian language spoken in south-central Washington and northern Oregon by the Yakama people. There are very few fluent speakers of the language remaining, but the University of Washington does have an online dictionary for people to peruse. The dictionary only has the Sahaptin-English portion of the dictionary though. The book is also available on that link.
Beavert hopes to raise $6,000 in the next 9 days to create a two-CD set of traditional legends that she has learned from elders over many years. She has already completed one two-disc set at the Jack Straw Productions studio in Seattle. This fundraising effort is for a second set of discs.
“These legend recordings have proven to be very useful tools for teaching the Sahaptin language to others. They also express many important things about my culture—our traditions, our values, our history,” she says on the Kickstarter page.
She also said time is of the essence because she’ll be 94 soon and gets tired easily. “It’s very important to me to complete this second recording while I still have the strength and determination to do it,” she said.
Beavert is currently a little more than halfway to her fundraising goal, to help her preserve her culture and language, click here.