Integrating Language and Education

“There is a statistically significant relationship between identification with tribal culture and academic success. “

Huffman, Sill, and Brokenleg 1986 – Journal of American Indian Education


Our Patwin language offers us a unique world-view; a look into the past and a way to face forward. By knowing our language we are able to speak, but also understand nuances unique to our Patwin culture. Over the past several years we have developed educational programs for both our youth and adults, while integrating our language back into the community by naming our offices, buildings, businesses and even roads in our native language. 

The most promising learners are our children. For the past eight years, Leland Kinter has been teaching classes at the Academy. In 2013, he earned important recognition with an American Indian Languages Credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Using an innovative combination of technology, social interaction, music and hands-on activities, Leland has built a program that reaches multiple learning styles. With this program, students are able to become intermediate fluent speakers by the time they graduate from middle school and several are satisfying their high school foreign language requirement by taking Patwin at the Academy.

Patwin language and culture are infused into every aspect of the school curriculum. From starting off the day with a student pledge in Patwin, to daily routines, class jobs, weather, calendar items and through our music program by teaching the songs in the Patwin language. In this way, and many more, our language helps us insure that our culture continues to be a part of our children’s daily lives. 

The adult Patwin language classes are held twice a week and taught by our momhichemihn (teacher in Patwin) Bertha Mitchell. Through her guidance, we have been able to build a modern language program. Her teaching and recordings are the cornerstone of our language program.