Speakers of the endangered Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) language gathered together in Tok, Alaska, in early January 2019 to develop content for an online course to teach individuals interested in learning the language and preserving it for future generations. The workshop was organized and hosted by Doyon Foundation.

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The Alaska Native language of Nee’aanèegn’ is spoken mainly in the Alaska villages of Northway, Tetlin and Tok, but has a small population also across the border in Canada.

The course is part of the Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online (DLO) project, which is developing and publishing a total of 224 online language-learning lessons for the endangered Doyon region languages of Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross), Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana), Deg Xinag and Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim). Ultimately, there will be 10 units consisting of a total of 56 essential lessons for each language. Courses will be available through the Transparent Languages Online platform, in partnership with the Alaska Gateway and Iditarod Area school districts. The DLO project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Alaska Native Education Program.

During the focused, closed session, the team reviewed materials created over the last several months, and completed drafts of remaining materials for the course.

The workshop drew speakers from across Alaska and as far away as Canada. DLO content creators Cheryl Silas and Polly Hyslop helped facilitate the workshop. Elders Roy Sam, Avis Sam and Cora Demit were also in attendance, along with Rowena Sam. Ruth Johnny and David Johnny drove in from across the border in Beaver Creek. Linguist Olga Lovick traveled from Regina, Saskatchewan, to help with eliciting, editing and proofreading lessons.

“I’m really happy with the work that we got done here and for all the love and effort that our Elders, content creators, and community members put into these courses,” said Diloola Erickson, Doyon Languages Online II project manager. “I feel very blessed and honored to be a part of this process and I look forward to continued work on our languages.”

A follow-up gathering focused on recording of the lessons with Elders will follow in the spring.

For more information on Doyon Languages Online, visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Diloola Erickson at ericksond@doyon.com or 907.459.2058.