In 2008, AB 544
set up a separate credential for teaching Native American languages
Zavalla, Kathleen Marshall and Carmen Sandoval earned Native
American Language and Native American Culture clear credentials.
(Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians)
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which supported successful
state legislation to make teaching credentials available in the
subjects of Native American language and culture, now has three
instructors with clear credentials who are ready to teach students
throughout the Santa Ynez Valley.
Nakia Zavalla, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians' culture
director, along with Kathleen Marshall and Carmen Sandoval recently
obtained their Native American Language and Native American Culture
clear credential, which allows them to teach the subjects in public
"Teaching in local classrooms gives us the opportunity to share
our Samala language and culture with children who many not have
been previously exposed to Chumash life," Zavalla said.
"For us to earn these credentials and have the ability to go
into Santa Ynez Valley schools as teachers is a great accomplishment
and a step forward for our tribe," Zavalla said.
To work toward earning clear credentials, the Santa Ynez Chumash
Culture Department has sent its applicants to teach programs in
The Family School in Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley Charter School
and Dunn School in recent years.
In 2008, California Assembly Bill 544 established a separate
teaching credential for the teaching of Native American languages
in California schools.
Federally recognized California tribes administered a test of
their Native American language(s) to the teacher applicant. Those
who succeeded received tribal sponsorship for a separate credential
from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing after passing necessary
background and other checks.
The 2015 passage of AB 163, which was introduced by then-State
Assemblyman Das Williams, allowed for applicants to be authorized
to teach courses in Native American language, Native American culture
or both in California public schools.
"I first started working with our Samala language over 10 years
ago, and I thought it would be great just to learn it," Sandoval
said. "Now, my journey has evolved into something far greater than
I could have possibly imagined.
"Together, as a group, we've maintained the momentum and
accomplished this goal."
Marshall said the responsibility of helping to preserve the
Samala language and being able to teach it to others has weighed
heavy on all of the tribe's teachers during training.
"We know what we're charged to do, and our ancestors have been
walking with us through this journey," Marshall said. "It's a huge
responsibility, but we have to do it. Achieving the credential is
definitely an accomplishment, but it's also awesome to see the progress."
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is in Santa Barbara County.
The tribe owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort on its reservation
and also owns two hotels and a restaurant in Solvang Hotel
Corque, Hadsten House and Root 246 as well as two gas stations
in Santa Ynez.
Veronica V. Sandoval for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash