Photo of sqəql̓qílaʔxʷ (bog orchid / Habenaria dilatata) blooming in Sinixt territory.

Language Revitalization

As Sinixt, we understand the vital importance of language revitalization for the well-being of our people. We are grateful to our language partners at the Salish School of Spokane and The Inchelium Language House for their efforts to bring n̓səl̓xčin̓ (click to play) fluency back to Sinixt families and other n̓səl̓xčin̓-speaking people.

About n̓səl̓xčin̓

n̓səl̓xčin̓ is a Southern Interior Salish language related to the Kalispel, Spokane, and Wenatchee Salish languages. n̓səl̓xčin̓ is spoken by several bands and tribes in the upper Columbia, Kootenay and Okanagan River basins.  The word for this common language of the land can be said and spelled in different ways: n̓səl̓xčin̓ /  n̓syil̓xčn̓ nsyilxcn.

Listen to the pronunciation of these common n̓səl̓xčin̓ words:


How to pronounce Sinixt


How to pronounce hello


How to pronounce thank you

pútiʔ kʷu aláʔ

How to pronounce We are still here

pútiʔ aláʔəl̓x

How to pronounce They are still here


How to pronounce Columbia River


How to pronounce Nelson


How to pronounce Castlegar


How to pronounce Revelstoke

Language vs. Tribal Identity

The root of  n̓səl̓xčin̓  is the word sil̓x , which can also be said and spelled syil̓x or syilx. sil̓x means “Salish people”. The word sil̓x does not designate any particular band or nation. Rather, it refers to all Salish people, especially those who speak n̓səl̓xčin̓ . The additions n̓– čin̓ / n̓–čn̓n–cn turn the root word sil̓x  (Salish people) into a word meaning “Salish people’s language”.

In the 20th century, non-Indigenous researchers and colonizers began to use the English name “Colville-Okanagan” for n̓səl̓xčin̓ . We do not use this term, because it confuses tribal and national identity with language. The language that one speaks does not determine one’s nationality. We understand that Canadians and Americans are distinct people living in two separate nations, even though English is widely spoken in both countries. Likewise, Sinixt people are distinct from San Poil, Methow and Okanagan peoples, even though we all speak n̓səl̓xčin̓ 

Sinixt people are the sole Indigenous people who can assert sovereignty in traditional Sinixt territories. It is a violation of our inherit sovereignty for non-Sinixt people, bands or nations to claim any kind of sovereignty in Sinixt territories just because they speak n̓səl̓xčin̓  or use the terms sil̓x or syilx (Salish people) for themselves.

More Salish Language Resources for Educators is hosted by the Salish School of Spokane and offers many resources for N̓səl̓xčin̓ and some neighboring neighbouring languages as well as some cultural resources about us. Several hundred N̓səl̓xčin̓ Word of the Day videos can be found on the Salish School of Spokane’s YouTube channel or on the Salish Word of the Day Facebook page.
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