March 11, 2010
Southeast Idaho has a rich and colorful history. Recently, two entities who have been a part of it came together to create a unified future.
Recently we welcomed Larry EchoHawk, U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and leaders from the Shoshone-Bannock, Coeur d’Alene, Shoshone-Paiute, Kootenai and Nez Perce tribes to our campus for, among a host of other events, the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho State University and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
In the memorandum, ISU and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes agreed to develop our relationship so we can offer more educational services to the Shoshone-Bannock community in the future.
We also unveiled a photographic mural in our Rendezvous Complex depicting Red Hill as a historic gathering place for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. I encourage anyone in the community to come and take a look at this beautiful piece of art representing our relationship.
The day and evening were both filled with a sense of community, as we celebrated together with a feast and a powwow. Today, I’m looking forward to a continued spirit of cooperation and success into the future.
At Idaho State University, we have been fortunate to have quality faculty who are working hard to preserve tradition and culture, and to offer an education that will benefit Native American communities as they look to the future.
The Native American Business Administration Program (NABA) provides a quality education to future Native American business and community leaders. The program, which was made possible through a generous endowment from Anne S. Voillequé and Louise S. Nelson offers a look at concerns and special issues facing tribal communities in addition to the traditional degrees offered by the College of Business.
For the past 20 years, Drusila Gould, an instructor in the anthropology department, has been teaching the Shoshoni language as part of the Idaho State University Shoshoni Language Project. Together with Chris Loether, Gould, a native Shoshoni-speaker and member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, started creating the first Shoshoni language dictionary and a Shoshoni language writing system. The pair’s Shoshoni language dictionary produced by the ISU anthropology department now consists of 3,000 words and continues to grow. You can find the dictionary online at www.shoshonidictionary.com.
Gould and Loether also developed lesson plans and a textbook. Their program, including classroom materials, textbook and dictionary, has been modified by other Shoshoni communities near Ely, Nev., and Wind River, Wyo. Central Wyoming College also adapted the Shoshoni Language Project for its use, and elementary and secondary schools are using variations of the program as well.
Loether and Gould both know the Shoshoni language is still considered endangered, but as more students learn it, the language continues to be preserved for future generations.
I’m proud of the faculty and programs we have here at Idaho State University that help preserve culture and offer opportunities to help all students succeed. I’m excited for the future, as we continue our work with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and other members of our Southeast Idaho community to offer our students the best educational opportunities.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University