111_DLO_Course Promotion_Denaakk’e_FB-INDenaakk’e course now available for free to all interested learners

Doyon Foundation today released the third course in its Doyon Languages Online project, which is creating introductory online lessons for nine of the 10 endangered Doyon region languages. The Denaakk’e course joins the previously released Benhti Kenaga’ and Gwich’in courses. All three courses are now available at no charge to all interested language learners through the Doyon Foundation website.

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Denaakk’e, also called Tl’eeyegge Hʉkkenaage’ or Koyukon Athabascan language, originates from the areas surrounding the middle Yukon River, the Koyukuk River and the Lower Tanana Rivers in the central region of Alaska. Its traditional territory covers 78,000 square miles, approximately the size of the entire state of Minnesota.

“While our current population of over 3,000 people now live all across Alaska and the world, we estimate that there are 250 active Denaakk’e learners of all ages and races, striving to continue our arts, songs and practices in their schools and individual families. It is a living language that continues to change, evolve, grow and adapt, just like our communities,” said members of the Denaakk’e course content creation team.

Like the other Doyon Languages Online courses, the Denaakk’e course was developed by a team of content creators, Elders and a linguistics consultant, with the support of Foundation staff.

“The Denaakk’e content creation team relied on the expertise of the Denaakk’e language Elders and the materials they published from the 1970s to today,” said Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program. “The course has some wild turns in it, from how to talk with your baby to how to butcher a spruce hen you hit with your car on the way back from Minto. Special attention was paid to making these lessons relatable to today’s learners.”

The finished Denaakk’e course includes 10 units, each with five lessons of content, reviews and unit assessments, as well as 10 conversational videos with subtitles in English and Denaakk’e, and 25 culture and grammar notes. Supplemental resources include an extensive Denaakk’e (Koyukon) dictionary available for purchase through the Alaska Native Language Center, and additional free materials through the Alaska Native Language Archive. The Yukon Koyukuk School District currently hosts a Denaakk’e language program delivered via distance technologies to schools in rural Alaska.

The Foundation extends a special thank you to the Denaakk’e content creation team, including Elders Eliza Jones and Marie Yaska, and content creators Susan Paskvan, Dewey Kk’ołeyo Hoffman and Bev Kokrine; as well as Doyon, Limited; Paul Mountain; Denakkanaaga, Inc.; Yukon Koyukuk School District; Alaska Native Language Center and Alaska Native Language Archive; and the people who worked with the Denaakk’e language from the 1970s to today. Their work makes this course possible.

The declining number of speakers, and the desire to preserve and pass along the Native languages of the Doyon region to future generations is the driving force behind Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project. The project is creating introductory online lessons for nine of the 10 endangered Doyon region languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana).

In the past week, Doyon Foundation officially launched Doyon Languages Online with the release of the Benhti Kenaga’ and Gwich’in courses. Earlier this spring, the Foundation gave a preview of Doyon Languages Online with the release of a special set of Hän language lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby, an Alaska Native leader, respected Elder and language revitalization pioneer. The Foundation plans to release one additional course later this week.

The Doyon Languages Online launch coincides with the International Year of Indigenous Languages, which Doyon Foundation is a partner organization of.  In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. At the time, it was estimated that 40 percent of the 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing.

Doyon Languages Online is a partnership between Doyon Foundation and 7000 Languages, a nonprofit that supports endangered language learning through software donated by Transparent Language. It is funded by a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), awarded in 2016, and an additional three-year grant from the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP), awarded in 2017.

For more information on the Denaakk’e course and the Doyon Languages Online project, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com. For assistance signing up for or using Doyon Languages Online, view the instructional video series on YouTube.

ANA Language Revitalization Grant #: 90NL0626. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication, and all others associated with the Doyon Languages Online project, do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Administration for Children and Families, or the Administration for Native Americans.