The United Nations has declared 2019 “The Year of Indigenous Languages.” Many Oregon tribes are working hard to bring back their native tongues. Though the work is challenging, they try to find ways to keep it light-hearted.
All over Oregon, words that haven't been said out loud for generations are being spoken again. The work to revitalize native languages has accelerated in recent years, and scholars hope their efforts will yield generations of new speakers.
Many Oregon place names have Native American roots. Some of them teach lessons about the land and its history, others are more like a game of “telephone” played over time. Here are a few stories about local place names.