Essays

Life in Language

For four decades, Jay Powell and Vickie Jensen collaborated with Aboriginal groups in British Columbia and Washington State to preserve their original languages, by observing, recording, writing, publishing—and listening.

The summer day in 1969 when Jay Powell knocked on the door of an older female tribal member on the Quinault Indian Reservation at Taholah, Washington, marked a turning point for him.

Powell was a thirty-year-old PhD student in anthropological linguistics, the recording and analysis of tribal languages, and he had embarked on an intensive hands-on phase of his

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