Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall or duh-POY-tuh Hall?

Published by Brandy Stone on

Information about Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall. Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

If you thought UCC’s Humanities Building was pronounced “Tapʰòytʰaʼ,” think again. The building’s name, Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall, pronounced duh-POY-tuh, emerged in the aftermath of the 2015 shooting tragedy at Umpqua Community College. Replacing the original Snyder Hall, the new building’s name symbolizes a commitment to safety, security, and well-being.

The building’s name was itself a gift from The Cow Creek Band Umpqua Tribe of Indians. In honor of Native American Heritage Month this November, the Mainstream seeks to shed light on the history and cultural significance of Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall’s name. Translated from Takelma, the Umpqua tribe’s native language, Tapʰòytʰaʼ means “be blessed and to prosper.”

Snyder Hall, the predecessor building was in a state of disrepair, and faced replacement after the 2015 mass shooting that occurred in Snyder Hall.

The name was given to the college to use with a condition: correct pronunciation and no abbreviations. The Cow Creek Tribe’s intention was to contribute to the Takelma language reclamation, offering the name as a gift of healing and a stand against the erasure of Takelma culture that has occurred in Oregon’s past through forced assimilation.

In 2017, Senate Bill 13 was passed with the aim to ensure accurate Oregon history was taught with information verified by tribes, emphasizing Indigenous self-representation.

As of this month, new funding for language reclamation has also been allocated, including a recent $1.7 million grant from the US Department of Education to the University of Oregon. To support Indigenous language reclamation for five years. The Northwest Indian Language Institute, or NILI, at U of O is actively involved in these efforts.

Memoriam plaque commemorating Ralph I. Snyder. Robin Bailey / The Mainstream

When Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall was built, a commemorative plaque for Ralph Snyder’s contribution as a UCC Founder was placed near the circular fountain, chosen based on student input. Former UCC President Debra Thatcher approached The Cow Creek Tribe, and after consultation, the name Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall was selected to inspire hope and encourage survivors. The name gained approval during a Board of Education meeting in Februrary 2018.

Founding director of NILI Janne Underriner, indicates that Indigenous language reclamation is pivotal, connecting youth to their ancestors, preserving cultural heritage, and illuminating Oregon’s land history. Indigenous words often carry nuanced meanings beyond their English translations, revealing intricate connections to belief systems.

The Cow Creek Tribe has an interactive dictionary on their website, providing audio pronunciation for Takelma words. With a dedicated Takelma Language Program, they offer a robust curriculum for grades K-11, aiming to strengthen cultural identity. Additionally, an October display in the Laverne Murphy Student Center showcased children’s books in Takelma, also available for exploration on The Cow Creek Tribe’s website.

Student center book display for Native American History Month which showcases their language and history.
Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, The Mainstream acknowledges the profound impact of Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall, a testament to resilience, hope, and the rich cultural tapestry that the Takelma language weaves into the fabric of UCC.