+ SPOTLIGHT | Chris Martinez

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Christopher, 21 years old.
Tribal Native
Neah Bay, WA 

The first three words that come to my mind when I think of “healing” are: 

restoration, sustainability, and health. 

Bio/ backstory, tell us what you DO and a bit about how you came to do it.

I work for the Makah Language Program, and teach our native language (Qʷi•qʷi•diččaq) in the Neah Bay Elementary and Middle School.
I was brought on board, in May and received my teaching certification in mid July after a rigorous 12 week certification process. 

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How do you heal? 

How I “heal” is doing my best to get these kids in school talking in our language about everyday thing. My way of helping save our language, as much as I can. 

Who are your Mentors/ role models? 

My mentors, stand in a couple of our ladies. One being Maria Pascua, who is the most knowledgeable in our language. Secondly, the Manager of the Makah Language Program (MLP) which also happens to be my mother. Also, Lorraine Greene (another language teacher) for keeping me up on my skills, and speaking in the language with me, often. You ladies work hard, and do an awesome job! 

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What inspires/ drives you to keep going? 

What inspires me to keep going? I would like to see everyone speaking our language out and about and I don’t want to see our language die. 

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If you could relay a mantra, message, wisdom, ism, food for thought to Indigenous 20 somethings from the US and abroad what would you say?

Something to think about: what could you be doing to help the youth in your community? Or to revive your language?

I20SP