Marie Wilcox has a simple dream, a dream in which she hears the
language spoken by her Wukchummi grandparents once again.
language is dying.
is something I feel in my heart, I want to hear again," Wilcox
dream came one step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday when the
Owens Valley Career Development Center held its grand opening.
center's mission is to provide Native American Indians with cultural
education, programs and opportunities.
will teach families that go to the center the Wukchummi her grandparents
the language] will help bring families together," Wilcox said.
"And they will be proud of their heritage."
a resident of Woodlake, said it is a welcome sight to see a center
for Native Americans open in Visalia.
center will provide services for Native American families. Those
services include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, vocational
education and family literacy.
nonprofit, federally funded center says it hopes to use welfare
reform money not only to help families in need, but also to empower
Native Americans with culture.
will provide families an opportunity to strive for economic self-sufficiency,"
Esther Stauffer, family literacy coordinator, said. "It will
also help them identify who they are and where they came from."
a native Alaskan, said it is important for Native Americans to know
their language and history.
Andrew of Visalia is half Cherokee Indian. She said the center is
a great place for her children.
make moccasins and take classes on Indian heritage," Andrew
children also participate in basketball, boxing, basketmaking and
center will also have math, reading and writing tutoring, parenting
classes and vocational classes, which will vary.
said the center currently serves about 65 Native American families,
and that is before its official opening.
are other Owens Valley Centers in Tulare County also in Porterville
and on the Tule Indian Reservation.
Valley Centers are also in Inyo, Mono, Kern, Kings and Fresno counties.
gathered at the opening of the center, and Wilcox gave a blessing
in her native language before they ate dinner.
us learn our Indian language," she said. "Help me bring
my language back to me."