“Speaking Soulatluk in Eureka” Project is Underway

(From left to right) Dr. Lynnika Butler, Marnie Atkins, Gabrielle Gopinath, and Leslie Castellano.

Earlier this month the National Endowment for the Arts grant was given to the Ink People for the Arts in partnership with the Wiyot tribe and the City of Eureka.

The $50K grant is being used to develop a language revitalization project called “Speaking Soulatluk in Eureka.” Gabrielle Gopinath with Ink People for the Arts explained the various ways that the Soulatluk language of the Wiyot Tribe will be shown throughout the city of Eureka and beyond.   

“It’s about bringing artworks, wayfinding signs and reintroducing names, words, stories, geographic reference points in the Soulatluk language,” Gopinath said. 

The language will also be shown on transit vehicles for community members to look at. Community members will soon be able to walk along Eureka to listen and learn of the Wiyot People and the Soulatluk language by using a simple shortcut on devices. The Cultural Dept. Director, Marnie Atkins said. 

“We plan to use QR codes so folks can scan with their phones or tablets, and that will take them to a website that the tribe has put together with recordings,” The Cultural Dept. Director, Marnie Atkins said. “you know, to have something on a bus, a sign on a bus that goes right from Trinidad to Scotia, the amount of folks that will see our language is amazing.”

These recordings are archived audio files of tribal elders and community members pronouncing words, phrases, and stories in Soulatluk. 

“Some of these recordings will be of our elders speakers, our ancestral elders speakers, and some of them might be contemporary community members such as myself or other Wiyot people,” Atkins said. 

“Speaking Soulatluk in Eureka” is in its action phase at the moment, words are already being introduced and the project should be done near 2024. 

“Some of the things you may see are not, you know, that are just starting now have been part of a much bigger vision that’s kind of ongoing with language revitalization,”

Tribal Linguist and Language Program Manager, Dr. Lynnika Butler, explained the many other projects and grants the tribe has received that work toward language revitalization. There are opportunities for more digital learning within the Eureka community, and even introducing a native language curriculum into the local surrounding school districts. 

This is an opportunity for younger generations of the Wiyot Tribe to explore and expand their knowledge of their language and culture. Non-native people within the community and living on Wiyot land will also have the opportunity to learn more about the first people of this land.

“It’s, I think, a really good and positive thing in just having more visibility,” Dr. Butler said. 

“When I learn my language and when I speak my language, it connects me to these landscapes in ways that the English language doesn’t allow me to do,” Atkins said. 

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