By press release
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation 

Tribal elder Pauline Stensgar passes; ceremonies this Friday-Saturday

Leader in language program dies; dressing, funeral and burial this Friday-Saturday


Last updated 5/4/2023 at 10:54am

Pauline Stensgar in ceremonial regalia. The 96-year-old was the tribe's oldest employee and a founder of its language program. - photo courtesy of the Colville Tribes

(Nespelem, WA) - The Colville Tribes is saddened to announce the passing of Colville Tribal member Pauline Stensgar. She was 96 years old.

Pauline Stensgar was the last fully fluent speaker of the nxa?amxcin dialect. She dedicated her life to preserving and revitalizing the language. Her most recent project was establishing a nxa?amxcin dictionary, which is near completion.

Pauline dedicated a total of 48 years of service to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and was the Tribes' eldest employee. During her long career, Ms. Stensgar worked with Area Agency on Aging as a handywoman, assistant cook, and foster grandparent. For the last 24 years, she worked with the Language Program as the Senior Elder instructor.

The dressing will occur this Friday, May 5 at 2:00 p.m. at the Strate Funeral Home in Grand Coulee. A rosary will follow later the same day at 7:00 p.m. at the Keller Community Center. The funeral will occur on Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m. and will be officiated by Father Joe Fortier. Pauline Stensgar will then be laid to rest in her final resting place, the San Poil Indian Cemetery.

Colville Business Council Chairman Jarred-Michael Erickson said, "The Colville Tribes always mourns the loss of a tribal member, but the loss of a language speaker and tribal member of Pauline's status is truly incalculable. The entire world is poorer for her loss. In honor of Pauline Stensgar, I have ordered tribal flags to fly at half-staff."


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