Couldn't Be Prouder - AIS's First Departmental Honors Graduate

Submitted by Kai Wise on
Stuart Heslop, AIS and Linguistics, Class of 2022

It goes without saying that AIS has had many amazing students over the years who have accomplished much during their time on campus and gone on to do important work upon graduation. One of our regrets is that before now we have not had an official Honors track to recognize our exceptional AIS majors. Working closely with the Honors Program at the UW, the department has just recently submitted a proposal for a Departmental Honors track that would allow AIS majors to apply for and earn recognition for excellent work in the major.

Before this could be finalized however, we had an extraordinary student who was set to graduate at the end of March. Stuart Heslop, AIS and Linguistics double-major, class of 2022, began taking Southern Lushootseed with Tami Hohn the first year it was offered. After completing the full year of study, they wanted more. Since we don’t yet have a second year of formal language study in Lushootseed, Stuart worked with Tami Hohn to create a research family, funded through the CAIIS Research Family Fellowships, to continue advanced study in Southern Lushootseed language while working on archival projects with UW Libraries materials and creating new resources for future students to be able to use. Of their work, Stuart says, “Lushootseed, the Indigenous language of much of the Puget Sound watershed, has no living first-language speakers, though there is a growing number of second-language speakers in local tribes,” something which Stuart hopes their work will contribute to.

Stuart Heslop and Tami Hohn tabling for Lushootseed language at an AIS event

(Stuart and Tami tabling for Lushootseed at an AIS event)

“Across both projects, we documented several hundred words, phrases, and sentences. Through the research family, I was able to leverage my knowledge of linguistics in service of Indigenous language revitalization, guided by methodology and cultural perspectives learned through Indigenous Studies. In my AIS classes, I have been able to focus my work on the historic and cultural significance of Indigenous language. I also achieved one of my primary goals—to engage in language work that would return to Lushootseed teachers and learners—as much of our work now forms the basis of Tami Hohn’s new second-year series of Lushootseed that began this fall (2021)." Tami Hohn now teaches several applied language courses including Lushootseed in the Seasonal Calendar and Lushootseed Oral Study, which can be a great way for students to continue their studies in Southern Lushootseed language.

Of their future plans, Stuart says, "I plan to pursue Lushootseed and Coast Salish language revitalization in collaboration with a local Indigenous nation, working directly with their language program to ensure my labor directly supports the community. Addressing the centuries-long erasure of Indigenous languages and cultures is justice in its truest sense, and linguists have an urgent role in researching and recording these languages for future generations.” Stuart will be doing this even sooner than they expected, as they were recently accepted into University of Victoria’s Masters in Linguistics program for this fall. We can’t wait to see where their work takes them in the future.

First graduating class of Southern Lushootseed students with Tami Hohn

(First graduating class of Southern Lushootseed students with Tami Hohn, June 2019. Stuart in middle of the back row.)