Salish: An endangered language lives on through the CDA®

May 25, 2016

At the Council, we are proud of sharing CDA® success stories with you to show the importance of the work we do daily. Anthony McKinsey, Marisa Ray, and Devon Peone, from the Salish School of Spokane, Washington, recently earned their CDA® Credentials in Salish, an endangered language spoken in the Pacific Northwest, including in the Canadian province of British Columbia and the American states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Anthony, Marisa and Devon are now all proud CDA® holders, who through their hard work sought to preserve their cultural identity by not only earning their CDA®s in Salish, but also through their work with young children. Their daily language usage with the children will help Salish to be passed down to younger generations for years to come, and their entire community will greatly benefit from the preservation of this endangered language through the daily work of these three early educators. Leading this effort for the preservation of the Salish language and strong supporters of the CDA Candidates are LaRay Wiley, Executive Director and Chris Parkin, Principal, both founders of the Salish School of Spokane, a school that provides educational services to children from one year old to 4th grade. Anthony, Marisa and Devon worked in the school Preschool center under the supervision of Carin Blair-Hoober, center’s director.

We would also like to recognize the efforts from our Multilingual and Special Programs Senior Manager Vilma M. Williams, and Joel Arias Padilla, Bilingual Communications Specialist Team Leader, whose work is dedicated to making the CDA® more accessible to all populations through the number of languages available. Cultural sensibility is one of the Council’s priorities and our ability to accommodate early educators’ cultural environments through language keeps our mission “to offer the opportunity to earn the CDA® credential to all competent and skillful educators in all communities across our nation and abroad.”

Anthony McKinsey


My Child Development Associate® has laid down the foundation of my education. It has helped me to help my students with their physical and mental development. It has shown me that it is ok for children to act certain ways and do certain things. Having my CDA® in Nselxcin (Selish) has been amazing, since staying in the language is very important to me. Staying in the language is very important to me. It is the language of the “stlsqilx”(the first people), and it is an endangered language. At the Salish School of Spokane we have created a community of friends and families that all support each other. Earning my CDA® was part of that support. My education is important but it is my first commitment to spread the language and help it thrive, and the place to start is with our children. It is important for me to teach them the language, because it helps them have confidence in themselves. It helps them have a deeper connection with their families, have a greater sense of self, and most of all, it supplies them with their culture. Coming out of my language immersion for just one day would not be doing my kids any favors linguistically, that is why I’m so grateful to have earned my CDA®.

Marisa Ray

salish2The experience with earning my Child Development Associate® in Salish has been truly amazing. It has allowed me to reconnect with my roots and to be able to help my people save our endangered language. I’m so thrilled to have gained new skills and see my growth as a teacher surpass what I imagined, because of the Salish School of Spokane and the education that I had received from the CDA® Council. It means the world to me. My mother Trina Ray, who is now deceased, was a founding board member for the school and Nselxcin runs in my bloodlines. The Salish School itself has filled the gap between myself as a native person and who I’m looking to become. The Salish School supported me on working full-time while helping me to achieve my first year education as an infant/toddler teacher. I am so happy to have earned my CDA® in Salish!

Devon Peone

salish3When I started working at the Salish School of Spokane, all I knew is how much I wanted to save the language and teach the kids. I didn’t know Salish, how to teach, or even what to teach. I wasn’t a babysitter. The only interactions I had with the youth were through my young cousins, or when I helped coach at basketball camps. Working with kids in the language was the goal now.

So with the help of the Salish School of Spokane and Community Minded-Enterprises, I was able to get an education from Bobbi Cobb and earn my Child Development Associate®. She taught me everything I know on how to do right by these kids. To help guide, support, and teach them the things they need to know. She is an amazing teacher who helped my complete my CDA®. Now I am taking this knowledge and using it all in Salish.

Salish is the first language of Spokane and its surrounding areas. It almost became extinct, but the Salish School of Spokane and surrounding tribes have come together to revitalize our language. After going through the CDA® program, I have gained so much confidence in my teaching skills. I’m not who I was when I started. Back then, I would have second-guessed myself and be uncertain. Now, I’m saving my culture and giving these children an amazing environment where they can take risks, learn, and be in touch with their culture. Language has such a strong impact on our mind and souls.

To write what it means for me to have this credential in my language has been difficult. I had to sit and ask myself in Salish “why”? You can have your CDA® in English, Spanish, and now in Salish. It gives me hope that we too can become just as strong as those dominant languages. This shows me we are saving it. This proves we are standing and speaking our language. We will not go away in history. This is where we come back.


Recently Posted:

Blog - Text Search
Blog - Category Search
Blog - Search by Tags
Blog - Publish Date