Great Basin Native American Language

In the early 1980’s, a committee was formed to work with the Nevada Department of Education and the Professional Standards Committee. They testified before the Nevada Legislature to approve the Great Basin Native American Language (GBNAL). The GBNAL Nevada Administrative Code allowed teaching of one of the four tribal languages (Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, Washoe and Western Shoshone) in the Nevada public schools. Also, the GBNAL endorsement allows fluent speakers from the tribes indigenous to Nevada to be certified and to teach in the Nevada public school.

The NDE maintains and oversees the endorsement application process and provides a certification to fluent speakers, which are usually tribal elders. The tribal speakers are recommended in application either by the tribal councils, or the language programs.

The GBNAL can be found in the following NAC:

§NAC 389.516 Permissible elective courses of study. (NRS 385.080, 385.110,

338.360). A local school board may offer the following courses of study as elective courses in a public high school: 18. Great Basin Native American languages.

§NAC 391.233 Special Endorsement to teach Great Basin Native American Language. (NRS 391.019). (See Appendix A for Endorsement & application).

§NAC 389.6549 (NRS 385.080, 385.110). A Course of study in a Great Basin

Native American Language must include instruction designed to teach the pupil to do the following: (see Appendix B for full description). Added to NAC by Bd. of Education by R066-97, eff. 12-10-97)

Why would an endorsement be required?

A person who does not possess the qualifications required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection1 (see above) should contact the Nevada Department of Education, Indian Education Consultant Office, and act in compliance with subsection 4:

4. A person who does not possess the qualifications required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection 1, but does possess the qualifications required by paragraph (c) of subsection 1, may teach a course in a Great Basin Native American language without an endorsement issued pursuant to this section if a licensed teacher is present in the classroom during the instruction. Written documentation of the person’s certification as a fluent speaker of the language he proposes to teach must be provided to the Department before he may begin teaching.

How is the GBNAL being implemented currently?

Washoe County School District:

The Washoe County School District (WCSD), in Reno, NV is one of the school districts that is integrating the Paiute language class into three of their schools: Spanish Springs High School, North Valley High School, and Reed High School. Other districts in Nevada are in the process of implementing the GBNAL language in their schools. The WCSD schools are using the Numu Yadooana book for instruction. The Numa Yadooana book is a joint effort of the WCSD, Title VII Indian Education Program and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Native Voices Language/Culture Program. Accordingly, the book acknowledges the significance of including language in increasing student achievement:

In creating this native language course, it is our desire to enhance the learning abilities of the students who participate, not only in the Paiute language but in other subject areas as well (Numu Yadoona, 2011).

Moapa Band of Paiute Tribe

In January 2014, the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) has hosted the Language & History Symposium with the Moapa Band of Paiute Tribe, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The event has brought individuals from the Southern Paiute tribes in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, along with other tribes. The event is consistent with the GBNAL State Statute, which allows tribes to work with their school districts to enact one of the tribal languages (Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, Washoe, and Western Shoshone) in public schools throughout Nevada.