Oregon Radio: Yakama elder preserves Sahaptin
"Lots of people go back to school -- whether it’s to re-train after a lay-off or to finally get a degree after life events have delayed one’s education. But it’s not that often a person in their 80s pursues a doctorate.

That’s what Virginia Beavert is doing at the University of Oregon. The Yakama elder is studying linguistics and teaching her native language Sahaptin. As part of KLCC’s special issues series, Rachael McDonald tells Beavert’s story.

Virginia Beavert was born in Oregon’s Blue Mountains.

Virginia Beavert: “I was born in a bear cave (laughs). The hunting trip was caught in a big storm and all their horses died and they found shelter in a bear cave and my mother was very pregnant I guess and my dad told me he tried to make her stay home and she wouldn’t stay home.”

Beavert had to do some research to find out her birthday. She believes it was November 30th, 1921.

Virginia Beavert: “My first language was Nez Perce because a lot of my uncles that I followed around and pestered spoke Nez Perce.” "

Get the Story:
Yakama Elder Keeps Her Native Language Alive (Oregon Public Broadcasting 6/3)