Thomas M. Hess Scholarship in Indigenous Language Revitalization

Thom Hess (1936-2009)

Dr. Thomas Hess was born in Michigan and received his university degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Washington. Thom spent most of his career teaching linguistics at the University of Victoria. He will be remembered for his dedication, generosity, selflessness, passion, and joy of life.

In 1961, Thom, then a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Washington, began studying Lushootseed with tribal leaders. Thom's efforts led to the creation of two Lushootseed dictionaries, three readers and other educational materials. The Tulalip Tribes thanked Thom for his important contribution through a tribute on their website, saying, "You have given us our Lushootseed so that we can teach our children."

Thom was universally admired, loved, and respected by his students and colleagues. He influenced the lives of many, in their careers in linguistics and other pursuits, and inspired everyone with his idealism, kindness, goodness, and quiet strengths.

The initial support for this scholarship derives from proceeds of the Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium co-hosted in 2005 by First Peoples’ Cultural Council and the UVic Department of Linguistics. Dr. John Esling, UVic professor emeritus, Linguistics, endowed this scholarship in honour of his colleague.

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