EllaMae Looney

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
Age:
17
Hometown:
Pendleton, OR

EllaMae advocates for language revitalization among Native youth in Oregon. She’s learning all three Native languages spoken in her tribal community – Walla Walla, Nez Perce and Umatilla – and is surveying Native youth to determine how to best deliver language lessons. EllaMae believes that language is a critical aspect of Native American identity.

“Tomorrow is not promised. The Creator can take a fluent speaking elder any day, so I feel it is my duty to step up and save our language. Now is not the time to turn our backs on learning our languages, customs, or culture. If we turn away now, we lose our identity as Natitaytma (Native Americans).”

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