Virginia Beavert: Young People and Lifeways

Virginia Beavert (Yakama) talks about young peoples’ interest in culture and heritage. 1:44.

Bio: Virginia Beavert received her Doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Oregon and teaches her native language, Ichishkin. Virginia Beavert, a member of the Yakama Nation, is a highly respected teacher and fluent speaker of her language, Yakama Sahaptin (Ichishkíin Sɨ́nwit)c. She was a key planner of the Yakama exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and has served on numerous committees and planning councils related to the documentation and preservation of Native languages. ( She grew up learning Nez Perce, and also Klickitat, Umatilla and Yakama dialects of Sahaptin. A respected Yakama elder, she has made invaluable contributions to Confluence at the Sacajawea Park Story Circles project, and the Vancouver Land Bridge.


“What really makes me happy is that that are young people now are going back to the longhouse. They want to learn to dig–the ceremonial gathering, they want to learn how to obtain the food, how to identify it. Find location places. You have to know all of that. There are a few young people yet who have attended my classes, who are following the teaching that when you shoot the first deer during the ceremonial hunt and fish. You thank that, whatever you kill, while it’s dying yet. While it’s still alive yet, it’s dying. You talk to it and thank it for it’s life, to benefit you, to benefit its people. You talk to it and it’ll die. You show it that courtesy for giving up it’s life. Giving up for you, you know. That’s the way we look at a lot of things. So it’s giving it’s life up too. So that’s the way we look at things.”

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