Jay Miller, Ph.D., devotes his life to recording and sharing (as appropriate) the Native languages and cultures of North America, through research, active participation, and dozens of publications. In Native belief, "The voice of the land is in its native language," the epitome of sustainable ecological and genetic (DNA) information among healthy communities.
Based in Seattle, despite occasional years away as a professor and administrator in British Columbia and on the East Coast, for more than three decades Jay has worked closely with the dozen Native Coast Salish (Lushootseed-speaking) tribes of Puget Sound, and most especially in collaboration with the late Vi Taqwsheblu Hilbert, a fluent elder, U.S. National Treasure, and last direct link to tribal life on these lands and waters.
Vi's death at the end of 2008 created a huge void, even as newly discovered resources and insights, enabling a new start, emerged from the first international exhibit of Coast Salish Art: "S'abadeb, The Gifts" - a presentation of Salish Coast artifacts and literatures organized with the advice of Vi, Jay, and many others, at the Seattle Art Museum, Winter 2008 (the exhibit will reappear at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in British Columbia) - and a third federal court trial defending treaty rights.
Finishing high-quality, inclusive documents, manuscripts, and publications (informally called "life lines") of her language has the commitment of a dedicated group of Vi Taqwsheblu Hilbert's students and colleagues, as well as of her nonprofit, Lushootseed Research, as they also face the messy challenges of health issues and cultural conflicts now being addressed.
Jay holds degrees in Anthropology, Ethnohistory, and Linguistics from the University of New Mexico, as well as a Ph.D. from Rutgers, with allied coursework at Princeton. He has taught in the U.S. and Canada (at each of the four quarters - Southwest, Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest), as well as serving as an administrator in the heartland at the Newberry Library's Center for the American Indian History in Chicago. Throughout, however, his touchstone has been documenting the indigenous integrity of Chief Seattle's homeland.