Tribal Government Departments
Muckleshoot Language Program
Page last updated:
June 1, 2023
9:24 am
Program Lead(s)
Eileen Richardson

Muckleshoot House of Language

39015-J 172nd Ave SE

Auburn, WA 98092


Department Overview

The Muckleshoot Language Program is a team of Muckleshoot Language caretakers who are dedicated to the revitalization of bcqclšulucid.

About The Muckleshoot Language

The Muckleshoot language is a dialect of Puget Salish, or whulshootseed.  It belongs to the eastern Puget Sound group along with Nisqually, Puyallup, Suquamish, Duwamish, Squaxin, Stillaquamish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Snohomish, and Skajit.  In addition, many Lummi, Nooksack, and Twana also knew the language.  All of these areas now use English instead of their native languages, but some of the elders are beginning to teach the native language to the younger people.

The native language is quite different from the English, containing several sounds without English equivalent letters.  Also, one native word can mean an entire sentence or concept in English.  The alphabet consists of 41 sounds.

Because of the many different languages and because trade was carried on among several different Tribes, the Chinook trade jargon grew.  It contained the most easily understood or most used words from all different languages.  As the influx of French and English speaking people grew, so also the jargon grew.  This language, or jargon, was never meant to replace a language, but merely for use in facilitating trade.  Perhaps if the ethnic balance  had remained the same, with some modifications, Chinook could have become the universal language of the northwest.

The native Indian language was historically an oral language, having no written form.  Between 1962 and 1974, Thom Hess from the Department of Linguistics, University of Victoria, Canada, worked with Earnie Barr, Eva Jerry, Bertha McJoe, Bernice Tanewasha, and Ellen Williams, all from Muckleshoot, and succeeded in converting the oral language to a written form.  Because of the efforts of this group, the Muckleshoot language will not become a forgotten language.

Services Provided

We provide continual services to the following areas:

  • CCDF Infant and Toddler Center
  • Muckleshoot Early Learning Academy
  • Muckleshoot Child Development Center
  • Muckleshoot Tribal School
  • Weekly community classes
  • Muckleshoot Community Song & Dance
  • Muckleshoot Language Certificate of Participation Program (New series quarterly)

Outlook for 2023

Harold “Blodgett” Moses (1923-2003), the last fully fluentnative speaker of the Muckleshoot language.

To continue providing all current services in addition to:

  • Language Classes for White River Museum.
  • Will be hiring for a Multimedia Developer Position.
  • Documenting of Meaningful Language Experiences
  • Welcoming and Protocol for Canoe Journey Hosting
  • New and updated Apps for language learning
  • Muckleshoot language website

Highlights of 2022

  • Muckleshoot Language Program received the 2022 Heritage Education Award from the Association of King County Historical Organization for the Muckleshoot Language Learning Apps, and Language Videos. By providing common, easily accessible, everyday technological tools to revitalize the Muckleshoot language.
  • Supported/partnered with Auburn, Enumclaw and Highline School Districts to integrate Muckleshoot/Southern Lushootseed Language into the schools of their district.
  • Multiple Language Videos for learning resources.
  • Language rotations for Learning Together Friday’s; formally known as PBL days.
  • Muckleshoot Language Certificate of Participation Program – one year of successful classes, resulting in many adult learners earning a certificate of participation. (New series quarterly)

Related Resources

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Overseen Programs & Services

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