August 2016


Doyon Foundation student Nicole Smith, daughter of Nancy and John Smith, and granddaughter of Elsie Smith, and Anita and Michael Bolton, aspires to become a marketing manager in a large corporation or to start her own business. From Dexter, New York, Nicole will begin at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego in the fall and study marketing.Nicole Smith

Along with looking for internships, “my plan is to cheer at Oswego State. I have cheered since I was 9 years old. I have always loved the sport and cannot wait to continue my career in college,” says Nicole, who was also on a lacrosse team throughout high school.

Nicole says her biggest challenge to overcome has been transitioning into college life, especially “leaving the only home I have ever known. Leaving my family will certainly not be easy, but I know we can do it.”

Fostering a close relationship with her father, a firefighter, Nicole volunteered at the fire department in her community as a junior firefighter. She had the opportunity to go on calls, help get equipment and learn more by attending a weekly training class.

“My father, also enrolled in the Nenana tribe, is a firefighter and that always inspired me to help people like he does and to be just like him,” Nicole says.

Eager to start her college career, Nicole says, “Doyon Foundation has been so helpful as they have been there by giving me the opportunity to apply for scholarships to help me as I advance to higher education; they are great supporters.”

To supplement her scholarship, Nicole also plans to enroll in a work-study program to help pay for her tuition.

Her advice to current and future students is to “never give up. I just graduated high school and this is my time to shine. Show the world, your school, your family what you can do. If you choose to attend college, do your best and never give up.”

Nicole plans to join clubs at college, and encourages others to “always push for the stars whether it’s school, work, clubs, sports or just simply meeting new people! Push as hard as you can with everything you do. Go for your dreams!”

Doyon Foundation Language Revitalization Program Director Allan Hayton recently gave a plenary talk on Language Revitalization & The Arts at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang), an international conference that took place at the University of Alaska Fairbanks June 20 – July 24, 2016.

CoLang is a biennial gathering designed to provide an opportunity for community language activists and linguists to receive training in community-based language documentation and revitalization. The conference consisted of two weeks of intensive language revitalization workshops and presentations, followed by a three-week linguistics field methods practicum in endangered languages.

In his June 28 presentation, available online here, Hayton shared his experiences collaborating on endangered language theatre projects, including a Perseverance Theatre production of Macbeth in the Tlingit language that was presented at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, a Gwich’in adaptation of King Lear (Lear Khehkwaii), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring Tlingit, Yup’ik and Gwich’in languages (both productions with Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre).

The focus of Hayton’s talk was how the theatre can create a space for endangered languages to come to life, and how the arts can engage the imagination in the language classroom for educators and learners. A future production Hayton is currently dreaming up is a Romeo & Juliet in Gwich’in and Inupiaq languages.

In addition to the many wonderful workshops and presentations at CoLang, Hayton was especially interested in participating in the three-week practicum in linguistic field methods that closed out the conference. Participants could choose from among Hän (Athabascan), Unangam Tunuu (Aleut), or Miyako (Ryukyuan) practica. These practica provided excellent opportunities to sharpen documentation skills, engage with speakers, and make connections with others teaching and revitalizing these endangered languages.

Professor Dr. Willem De Reuse taught the Hän Athabascan practicum, with invaluable assistance from speakers Ruth Ridley, Ethel Beck, Adeline Juneby and Percy Henry. There were also young teachers and learners participating, including Shyanne Beatty from Eagle, and Georgette McLeod, Mary Henry, Angie Joseph-Rear, Melissa Hawkins and Erika Scheffen from Dawson, Yukon Territory. Graduate and undergraduate linguists from several different universities rounded out the class.

Hän is a very close sister language to Gwich’in, Hayton noted. “If you laid the two languages side by side, you would see many similarities,” he said. “But you cannot assume the rules for one language would automatically apply to the other. Each language in the world is unique, and the rules are implicitly decided among the speakers, changing fluidly over time.”

For example, he said, notice the similarities and differences in the translations below:

  • English: The moose walked towards the lake.
  • Hän: Jë̀jùu män ts’ą̈̀’ ä̀haww.
  • Gwich’in: Dinjik van ts’à’ ah’àl.

“It was a great experience in the classroom with the speakers, and everyone learned a great deal that will help in upcoming projects involving Hän, as well as other languages of the Doyon region,” Hayton said.

CoLang 2016 was an inspiring gathering of many different people from around the world, all focused on the work of documenting and revitalizing endangered languages, Hayton said. Endangered language communities face similar challenges, and this gathering allowed attendees to share their ideas, inspirations, solutions and hope with one another.

Hayton said he will take what he learned from his fellows at CoLang, and apply those lessons to work for languages in the Doyon region. “Adak’ohtii, ts’a’ diiginjk k’yaa kwaii eenjit tth’aii nihk’it gwiinzii gwitr’it t’agwahah’yaa yuu,” he said. “Take care, and keep up the good work on behalf of our languages.”

CoLang 2018 will be held at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Doyon Foundation student Christina Edwin is the daughter of Christine Edwin and Greg Hoffman, and the granddaughter of Flora McCoy and Steve Feltch, and Virginia Wells and Donald Hoffman. From Anchorage, Alaska, Christina expects to graduate in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in rural development and a minor in Alaska Native languages from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).Christina Edwin

In the fall Christina will start her junior year at UAF, where she will focus on maintaining a high GPA and return to her role as president of the Native Student Union. “We are a Native student lead club on campus. I look forward to organizing our annual events and amping up our team to build our leadership,” she says.

Christina, who has always dreamt of doing research around community health, will also be working as an undergraduate fellow on a research project partnering with tribes in the Interior on sustainable, traditional and customary hunting, fishing and gathering practices.

Doyon Foundation has “been a great financial support,” Christina says, which has allowed her to continue building her leadership capacity through multiple roles within the UAF Native community and the Alaska Native community at large.

Outside of the classroom Christina enjoys dancing and is a member of the UAF Inu-Yupiaq dancers. She also prioritizes healthy eating, “so I spend mornings and evenings cooking to energize my body and spirit.” She encourages students to take time to do what they love and to set goals for themselves.

However going to school outside of Anchorage has its challenges as well. “I would say one of the most enduring parts of my college career is being away from my family in Anchorage,” Christina says. She spends her breaks reconnecting with family in Anchorage, especially her mom who she says is “the motivation for my success for all that I do.”

Nothing is stopping this junior, who spends most of her time outside of classes and homework organizing educational events as well as nurturing her culture and community’s well-being. “Place yourself amongst people who are go-getters and will support and uplift you in both times of failure and success. Don’t settle for less,” says Christina. “Most of all, remember where you come from and continue to nurture those roots.”

Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program director, had the honor of speaking at the invitation-only TEDxFairbanks 2016, which took place in Fairbanks in February. The video of his presentation is now available online – watch it here!TEDx YouTube.jpeg

“Despite years of experience in front of audiences as an actor and storyteller, this TEDx talk was an intimidating and nerve-wracking challenge. I am grateful for the supportive and encouraging circle of friends in the Morris Thompson Cultural Center that day,” Hayton said.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. In his talk, titled Intimate Space: Athabascan Language, Land, Culture, Hayton discussed how the Athabascan languages of Alaska have developed over centuries in intimate conversation with the natural world.

“Most of all I wanted to convey the story of our ancestral languages, and hopefully inspire others to become involved in learning and teaching them,” Hayton said.

For more information on Doyon Foundation and the language revitalization program, visit www.doyonfoundation.com. Find the video of Hayton’s TEDx talk on YouTube.