Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

This woman is saving a dying language for her kids

Amber Hayward and her sons
Courtesy of Amber Hayward
Amber Hayward is teaching her sons the language of their ancestors

Amber Hayward's kids weren't sold when she started speaking Lushootseed at home. It sounded different and some of the words were hard to say. 

But Hayward kept at it. She made her bathroom, where she gets ready, an English-free zone. From there she hollered at her kids in Lushootseed to guide them through their morning routine: Brush your teeth, get dressed, wash your face. And in time, her kids got on board. 

Top story: What’s the right way to go around Green Lake?

It's a process, but Hayward wants to help preserve Lushootseed, a language once spoken by nearly 12,000 people, that's now in peril of dying out altogether. 

She wants her kids and their children to have a language that was stolen from previous generations when they were sent to Indian Boarding Schools. 

As a language instructor for the Puyallup tribe, Hayward is trying to teach as many people as she can to speak Lushootseed. She goes to schools to teach native children. She also helped to organize a two week immersion course that runs until August 12 at the University of Washington in Tacoma. 

Listen to her interview with KUOW's Bill Radke to hear why it's so important to Hayward to revitalize her tribe's language. And watch the videos below to learn some Lushootseed yourself:

Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012
Year started with KUOW: 2015