Pechanga-sponsored Luiseño language program begins in CSUSB’s Department of world languages and literatures


With the generous support of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Department of World Languages and Literatures at California State University, San Bernardino is now offering full-credit courses in Luiseño, a Southern California indigenous language with a 200-year old written literary tradition, and an oral tradition dating back thousands of years.

Photo courtesy of the Pechanga Cultural Resources Department

Photo courtesy of the Pechanga Cultural Resources Department

These courses, taught by Eric Elliot (Ph.D. in Linguistics, UC San Diego), represent a first in the history of higher education in the state of California. No university in either the California State University or the University of California system has previously offered an American Indian Language course sequence as part of its regular curriculum to fulfill the General Education world language requirement.

During the current 2012-2013 academic year, Elliot is offering a three-course sequence in Luiseño (FLAN 101Q, 102Q, and 103Q) on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m.

Elliot learned Luiseño, Cahuilla, Serrano, and Cupeño from some of the last fluent speakers of these languages: Mrs. Villana Hyde (Luiseño), Mrs. Katherine Siva Saubel (Cahuilla), Mrs. Dorothy Ramón (Serrano), and, posthumously, Mrs. Rosinda Nolásquez (Cupeño). He hopes to pass on this knowledge, especially to Native American students interested in becoming elementary school teachers.

Elliott’s ultimate goal is to create schools in which Native children are educated in their ancestral language.  To this end, he has authored college-level curriculum to accompany his courses, which focus on the fundamentals of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and culture. He also hopes to offer introductory courses on Classical Nāhuatl (Aztec).  The Nāhuatl courses will focus not only on pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and culture, but also on how Nāhuatl is directly related to the indigenous languages of Southern California.

“CSUSB students at both the undergraduate and graduate level will find these language courses particularly attractive options for fulfilling their language requirements,” said Carmen Jany, associate professor of Spanish in the university’s Department of World Languages and Literatures. “The courses will provide an excellent opportunity for students to enrich their understanding of our region and its diverse cultures. CSUSB especially hopes that members of the surrounding Tribal communities who are not regularly enrolled at CSUSB will be interested in these new course offerings.  Scholarships may be available for non-enrolled Native students.”

In the future, the CSUSB Department of World Languages and Literatures hopes to continue offering these Luiseño language courses and to begin offering full-year sequences in Cahuilla, Serrano, Cupeño, and Nāhuatl.

For more information regarding Elliot’s courses and the Indigenous Languages Program, contact professor Carmen Jany of the Department of World Languages and Literatures at or (909) 537-7386.

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 or and visit