MARCOS ---- Palomar College teacher Linda Locklear became a student
again this summer, enrolling in a class in Luiseno, a language
indigenous to San Diego County and believed to be the first spoken
the second summer she's studied the language in a formal Palomar
course, a course the 30-year veteran American Indian studies professor
lobbied for years to get in the regular curriculum for credit. A
unanimous vote of the Palomar board of trustees in December 2001
put Luiseno, a language spoken in North County for centuries before
Europeans arrived, into the catalogue.
the movement is building to develop an entire new generation of
people who speak this ancient language of several North County and
Southwest Riverside County tribes, including the Rincon, La Jolla,
Pechanga, Pauma and Pala. Luiseno, educators said in interviews
this week, is spoken now by a sparse few and needs to be nurtured.
along with offerings this academic year that will advance the skills
of those who took introductory Luiseno, the college for the first
time this August begins a formal, for-credit course in Cupeno. It
is among 90 to 100 pre-European languages native to Southern California,
and the language spoken by a tribe known as the Cupeno who were
forced in 1903 to leave its land in Warner Hot Springs and resettle
at the Pala Reservation.
Luiseno and Cupeno are now to count toward meeting the requirement
in both the California State University and the University of California
systems that students learn a foreign language in order to graduate,
said Steven Crouthamel, the chair of the American Indian studies
department at Palomar.
Cal State San Marcos, senior Shalene Molina is getting university
credit for her study of Luiseno. She will have taken three ever-more
advanced classes at Palomar by the time her undergraduate course
work is done at the end of the fall 2004 semester.
human development major who lives on the La Jolla Indian Reservation,
Molina, who describes herself as Luiseno, Cupeno and Diegueno, said
Luiseno should survive to serve as a living expression of American
just don't want the language to be lost," she said by phone
from the reservation Friday. "It's important to carry it on."
is one of 425 students who have studied Luiseno and Cupeno in 16
non-credit and for-credit classes at Palomar since 2002, college
officials said. Trial runs of the courses go back to the mid-1970s.
By 2005, said professor Locklear, a plan to add Kumeyaay, the language
of Los Coyotes, may be realized.
Locklear, who took the course with her 6-year-old grandson, Narsall,
"I can count to five (in Luiseno), I know my colors, and I
can tell a story."
story is one that linguist Eric Elliott, the sole Luiseno teacher
at Palomar, aims to have his students passing on in the original
from generation to generation. In English, it would be called "Mr.
and Mrs. Tiger and the Frog."
story, as Elliott related it in an interview Thursday, involves
a boastful frog who is caught alone with Mrs. Tiger by her husband.
The male tiger examines the frog's every tale and finds them to
be full of falsehoods, including the frog's claim to have been a
decorated soldier who can beat anybody up.
anything to me," the frog pleads with Mr. Tiger after being
thoroughly unmasked, "but don't kick me into the pond."
that's exactly what Mr. Tiger does, as the frog swims off and survives
because of the wiliness of his plea.
about the eternal battle between truth and falsehood, said Elliott,
and a worthy vessel to carry the intricate Luiseno language and
instill its sounds and words in children.
43, a part-time professor at the college and a married father of
three who says he's very aware that he's a white man, taught the
course for the first time in 2002 "live" at the Palomar
Education Center on the Pauma Reservation. But after he was named
to a full-time teaching post at the Pechanga Reservation, the Chula
Vista resident turned to the World Wide Web and online classes as
a way to solve the grueling problem of his commute.
2003 and earlier this year, students heard Elliott teach the language
spoken via audio stream after they linked to their electronic classroom
from the college Web site at www.palomar.edu. For the fall semester,
online video of Elliott holding forth will be added. "This
is pretty revolutionary," Elliott said. "I don't know
any place except Palomar that's trying to get these courses out
there, especially in Southern California."
studied with the late Villiana Hyde, a native speaker of the Rincon
dialect of Luiseno who in "Yumayk, Yumayk" (translated
as 'long, long ago') wrote down the fairy tales and various histories
that were spoken and passed down through the generations. Her first
book, "Introduction to the Luiseno Language," was published
expects to be working with a 19-year-old Palomar graduate and UC
Riverside Native American studies major named Paul Miranda this
fall semester as Palomar offers Cupeno online for the first time.
Miranda, who grew up on the Pala Reservation and calls it home,
said he would be the first Cupeno person to teach college-level
Cupeno in the region.
says he will draw from a English-Cupeno dictionary, complete with
Cupeno legends, that has been in his family "a long time,"
a work by the late Rocinda Nolasquez called "Mulu'wetam."
It's all the more important that the language be revived, Miranda
said, because, along with the other indigenous languages, it was
was a story about one girl who spoke Cupeno in class and the nun
took her tongue and put it on a frozen pole and a piece of it chipped
off," Miranda said.
Locklear, a sociologist and a Lumbee Indian from the southeast part
of North Carolina, said preserving languages such as Luiseno and
Cupeno is vital because the words reflect the special views of the
world held by those peoples.
can't pray the same way in English," she said. "The songs
are not the same, the world view is not the same. The language is
really kind of the heart of the culture and, without the language,
your culture is really deprived."