Bailey Dann ’17

Melanie Drake ’92

After Bailey Dann ’17 graduated from Grinnell, she returned to Fort Hall, Idaho, intending to take the summer to plan next steps for pursuing a teaching career. But soon into this process, her phone rang. It was the principal of Chief Taghee Elementary, a Shoshone language dual-immersion charter school.

Dann, who is from the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, only knew a few Shoshone phrases yet agreed to work as a Shoshone language teacher.

“Our language has not been spoken in my family in the last four decades except in little bits and pieces here and there,” Dann says. “One of my gifts is language learning, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to gain fluency in Shoshone by learning from elders in our community.”

Currently, Dann is pursuing a master’s in linguistic anthropology from Idaho State University.

Her graduate thesis is focused on an accessible curriculum guide for Indigenous language teaching and planning.

“A guide like this doesn’t exist within my community,” she says. “I’m applying specific methods and theories that envelop the whole learner. A big part of my project is letting others know they are not alone. It is intensive work, but we are here. It takes an entire community to bring back a language.

Share / Discuss