Doyon Foundation News


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Doyon Foundation officially launched its Doyon Languages Online project today with the release of a language-learning course for Benhti Kenaga’, one of the 10 endangered languages of the Doyon region. The online course is now available at no charge to all interested language learners through the Doyon Foundation website.

 

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Benhti Kenaga’ is one of the string of Athabascan languages and dialects spoken on the Tanana River in Alaska. Benhti, Toghotili, Ch’eno’ and Salchaket are all members of this group, but only Benhti Kenaga’ is spoken now. Benhti means “Among the lakes” and Kenaga’ refers to “the language.”

“Today, language use is strongest within our songs, either alone or in a group. Singing gives us the ability to express a connection to the past. Growing up hearing Elders sing these songs of yesterday prepared us for today, and gives strength to move forward. This also is a part of who we are, something that makes us unique,” shared the Benhti Kenaga’ content creation team.

The course was developed by a team of content creators, Elders and a linguistics consultant, with the support of Foundation staff. The team drafted the initial course over a two-week time period last year. Over the past year, with linguistic consultation and coaching from speakers, the team finalized and recorded the course, and developed supporting content including videos, slides and interactives.

“The Benhti Kenaga’ content creation team is an inspiration,” said Doris Miller, Doyon Foundation’s executive director. “Witnessing them coming together to speak their language, share their stories and develop lessons that would allow them to pass their language on to future generations was an incredible experience. Doyon Foundation is so pleased to have played a role in facilitating this language revitalization.”

The finished course includes 10 units, each with five lessons of content, reviews and unit assessments, as well as 15 conversational videos with subtitles in English and Benhti Kenaga’, and 13 culture and grammar notes. The Benhti Kenaga’ Pocket Dictionary, published in 2009 and available through the Alaska Native Language Center, is a recommended supplemental resource for anyone taking the course.

The Foundation extends a special thank you to Elders Sarah Silas, Vernell Titus, Anna Frank and Andy Jimmie; the Benhti Kenaga’ content creators/contributors David Engles, Vera Weiser and Bertina Titus; linguistic consultant Siri Tuttle; the Village of Minto; the City of Nenana; Doyon, Limited; Doyon Facilities; Julian Thibedeau; and all of the authors and contributors who created materials for the Benhti Kenaga’ language from 1970 to today, making the creation of this course possible.

The Benhti Kenaga’ course is the first in a series of courses to be launched through the Doyon Languages Online project, which 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). The Foundation plans to release three additional courses over the next month.

Last month, Doyon 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.

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.

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.

For more information on the Benhti Kenaga’ course and the Doyon Languages Online project, please visit the Foundation website 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.

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First course to be released tomorrow; three additional to follow

Tomorrow, Friday, June 21, after three years of dedicated efforts, Doyon Foundation will officially launch its Doyon Languages Online project with the release of the first online language-learning course featuring Benhti Kenaga’, one of the 10 endangered languages of the Doyon region. Over the next two weeks, the Foundation will release three additional courses: Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Holikachuk. All courses will be available at no charge to all interested language learners through the Doyon Foundation website.

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. Those lessons are currently available through the Doyon Foundation website.

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, which began in 2016.

With the support of teams of content creators, Elders and linguistics consultants, 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).

“The content creation teams have been an inspiration,” said Doris Miller, Doyon Foundation’s executive director. “Witnessing them coming together to speak their language, share their stories and develop lessons that would allow them to pass their language on to future generations was an incredible experience. Doyon Foundation is so pleased to have played a role in facilitating this language revitalization.”

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.

“After years of dedicated efforts, we are so pleased to share this language revitalization work with all interested learners,” Miller said. “It is even more special to launch Doyon Languages Online in conjunction with the International Year of Indigenous Languages.”

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. Doyon Foundation is the private foundation of Alaska Native regional corporation, Doyon, Limited.

For more information on the Doyon Languages Online project and upcoming course releases, 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.

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Seeking qualified applicants for full-time, Fairbanks-based position

Doyon Foundation is seeking applicants for our full-time administrative assistant position, based at the Foundation office in Fairbanks. If you are interested in being part of a dedicated team working to support students and revitalize Doyon region languages, we encourage you to review the job description and apply today!

We are seeking a project manager to support and help keep our entire staff accountable and on task. The successful applicant will be highly organized with consistent follow-through, proactive, creative, positive, well-grounded and trustworthy. A person who enjoys routine and loves to work as a member of a team will thrive in this position.

Our administrative assistant works closely with the Foundation executive director, handles administrative duties and provides support to our board of directors. This position also works with the Foundation team to support our language revitalization program, scholarship programs, community relations and fund development.

A typical day may include answering the phone, greeting visitors, scheduling meetings, arranging travel, taking meeting minutes, creating documents, filing, handling mail, and assisting other team members as needed.

To apply, you’ll need to be a high school graduate or equivalent, have three years office experience, be able to type 45 WPM and use Microsoft Office programs, and have a valid driver’s license and access to a registered, insured vehicle.

If you or someone you know are interested in this position, please visit the Doyon, Limited employment webpage to learn more. To apply, create a Talent Bank profile on the Doyon website and then complete the online application. Applications will be accepted through June 18, 2019. 

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There are more ways than ever to stay connected with Doyon Foundation! We’ve recently expanded our online presence to include Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. We invite you to choose your favorite platforms and follow us to get the latest info on scholarship deadlines, language revitalization news, volunteer opportunities, grant applications, events and more!

It’s Easy to Support Scholarships While You Shop

Fred Meyer community rewardsDid you know you can help Doyon Foundation earn donations just by shopping with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card?

Fred Meyer donates $2.6 million per year to the local schools, community organizations and nonprofits of your choice. All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and scan it every time you shop at Fred Meyer.

Between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, we received $834.18 in donations from Fred Meyer, thanks to supporters who linked their Rewards Card to the Foundation. If all of our supporters linked their cards, just think about how much the Foundation could receive for our scholarship and language revitalization programs!

You can support the Foundation while you shop with just a few simple steps:

  • Log into your account or create a new account at fredmeyer.com/communityrewards.
  • Search for Doyon Foundation by name or by our NEW nonprofit number: QB344.
  • Link your card to Doyon Foundation.
  • Use your card every time you shop. Every dollar you spend helps us earn a donation from Fred Meyer! And you’ll still earn your rewards points, fuel points and rebates.

Don’t have a Rewards Card? Pick one up at the customer service desk of any Fred Meyer store.

The Fred Meyer Community Rewards program is just one way you can support Doyon Foundation. Other opportunities include:

Thank you for your support of the Foundation and our students!

For more information Doyon Foundation, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact us at 907.459.2050 or foundation@doyon.com. For details on the community rewards program, please visit www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards.

Doyon Foundation is pleased to welcome two new members to its board of directors: Marie Cleaver and Aaron Roth. Cleaver and Roth were elected to the Foundation’s seven-member board at the annual membership meeting in November.

Marie CleaverCleaver, elected to serve a two-year remainder term, is originally from Ruby, and currently resides in Galena. A former Foundation scholarship recipient, Cleaver studied tribal management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and will receive her certificate this spring. Cleaver has worked for Tanana Chiefs Conference, Fairbanks Native Association, and the Ruby Tribal Council. She currently works as an administrative officer/budget tech for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Galena. She is very involved with her children’s school, and loves the outdoors, painting, reading and crafting.

“I have always been very passionate about education, whether it be furthering my own or encouraging others to continue with theirs. As a past recipient, I feel this is a good way to give back,” Cleaver said. “I am honored and grateful to be able to sit on and serve with the Doyon Foundation board. They have done wonderful things for our people, and I look forward to learning and participating in all the awesome work that the Foundation is doing.”

Aaron RothRoth, elected to serve a three-year term, grew up in King Salmon and Wasilla, as well as Loretto, Tennessee, and currently lives in Anchorage. A former recipient of a Morris Thompson competitive scholarship, Roth holds a bachelor’s of business administration in finance and management from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is also a graduate of the Doyon Leadership Training. Roth’s work experience includes Prudhoe Bay, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and Doyon Remote Facilities & Services. He currently works at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, where he is the program manager of the orthopedic clinic.

“I am very grateful for the support that the Foundation gave me when I was pursuing higher education,” Roth said. “Serving on the board is a way of giving back and giving thanks for that support. It also gives me an opportunity to build a stronger connection and become more engaged with the people that Doyon Foundation serves. I see serving on the board as continuing my education. I am beyond excited about learning everything that being a Foundation board member teaches.”

Following the board member elections last fall, officer elections were held at the Foundation board meeting in February. Lanien Livingston was re-elected as president, Jennifer Fate was elected as vice president, and LaVerne Huntington was elected as secretary/treasurer.

The Foundation extends its gratitude to outgoing member, Helena Jacobs, who served on the Foundation board for the past three years. During her term, Jacobs sat on the development committee, governance committee, scholarship committee, and language revitalization committee. She also served as vice president of the board.

Doyon Foundation recruits candidates for open seats on its board each fall. Doyon, Limited shareholders age 18 and older are eligible to serve on the board. Shareholders interested in serving are encouraged to watch the Foundation website, sign up to receive Foundation emails, and follow the Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for announcements of future opportunities.

For more information about the Foundation, visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact foundation@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.

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Juneby’s lessons get new life through Doyon Languages Online partnership

For years, the lessons created by the late Isaac Juneby to share the endangered Hän language were used by a small group of dedicated learners from homemade photocopies and audio replicas of the original booklet and CD. Now, the lessons are getting new life through a partnership with Doyon Foundation, Transparent Languages and its nonprofit 7000 Languages, and support of Juneby’s family and community.

Juneby, a respected Alaska Native leader and wise Elder, was born to Willie and Louise Juneby in Eagle Village, Alaska, in July 1941. He died in a tragic car accident in July 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska.

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Juneby was an early pioneer in the revitalization of Alaska Native languages, recognizing the need in the early 1990s. “He saw that we were losing the language, that young people didn’t know it. He was concerned about losing the language. It was important to him to write it, to get a book out,” shares his sister, Adeline Juneby Potts.

A fluent speaker of the Hän language, Juneby recorded the Hän language lessons in his Eagle dialect in 1994 with John Ritter of the Yukon Native Language Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon. The original tape of the lessons and accompanying booklet were made available in a limited run, but have long been out of circulation.

“He always contributed greatly with his deep knowledge of Hän language — and his great sense of humor. It was a joy to work with him, and such tragedy to lose him so suddenly a few years ago. Having these lessons out and available will enable his legacy to continue,” Ritter remarks. “The Doyon Foundation project breathed new life into teaching materials that had ‘sat on the shelf,’ unused and gathering dust, for quite some time. The new tools and formats enable this kind of resuscitation of still-valuable work from years ago.”

Juneby’s lessons are now available again, this time widely accessible to all interested learners online through Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project. Doyon Languages Online is a partnership with 7000 Languages, a nonprofit that supports endangered language learning partially through software donated by Transparent Language.

“By posting Isaac’s language lessons in the Transparent Languages Online format, we hope to serve the needs of those wishing to advance their own speaking, listening and reading knowledge of the Hän language,” says Allan Hayton, director of Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program.

“We dedicate this work to Isaac’s memory, knowing that our friend would be delighted to see his work available in a modern format,” Ritter adds.

The online lessons are based on Juneby’s original work with support from the Yukon Native Language Centre and the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The lessons are arranged in a seasonal activity format, September through June, but learners are free to access the material they are most interested in rather than follow a strict order. The lessons are now available via the Doyon Foundation website, and are free for all interested language learners to access.

“I hope that Isaac’s Hän language legacy embodied in these lessons will be enjoyed by all those interested in learning to speak and understand the ancestral language of the Hän Gwich’in of Eagle Village, Alaska,” says Juneby’s wife, Sandra Juneby.

The release of Juneby’s Hän language lessons offers a preview of the full Doyon Languages Online project, which is currently working to develop and release online language-learning lessons for nine of the 10 endangered languages of the Doyon region. The project is also working with Elder Ruth Ridley on another set of Hän language lessons.

“We are so honored to debut the Doyon Languages Online project with these very special lessons, and we are deeply grateful for the support of Isaac’s family and community,” says Doris Miller, Doyon Foundation executive director. “We hope these lessons will honor Isaac’s memory and carry forward his work to strengthen and share the Hän language with future generations.”

About Isaac Juneby

Juneby was born and raised in Eagle Village. He also spent time in the small, close-knit Hän community of people who lived and worked seasonally at Coal Creek and Woodchopper mining camps along the Yukon River. He attended grade school at Wrangell Institute and graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. When Juneby returned home to Eagle Village, he was elected chief, making him the youngest leader ever elected to that position. Later he returned to school and earned a diploma at Sitting Bull College, and then a bachelor’s degree in rural development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During his lifetime, Juneby worked for a number of private, First Nations, federal and Alaska government organizations, always striving to help advance the cause of Native people. He was active in village tribal matters, subsistence issues, and hunting and fishing rights and management. He and his wife, Sandra, raised four children together, always maintaining their connection to the land.

In addition to recording the language lessons, Juneby worked with his own community and with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation in Dawson City to revitalize his language. He faithfully attended Hän literacy sessions at the Yukon Native Language Centre and in Dawson City.

About the Hän language

Hän is an Athabascan language spoken in the Alaska village of Eagle and in the Yukon Territory at Dawson City. A writing system was established in the 1970s, and considerable documentation has been carried out at the Alaska Native Language Center as well as at the

Yukon Native Language Centre. Hän is one of 47 languages in the Athabaskan language family, which is part of the larger Na-Dené family, and is most closely related to Gwich’in and Upper Tanana. The name of the language is derived from the name of the people, “Hän Hwëch’in,” which in the language means “people who live along the (Yukon) river.”

About Doyon Languages Online

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.

The project is creating introductory online lessons for nine of the 10 of the endangered Doyon region languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana). Additional goals include working with teachers in the Doyon region school districts to incorporate these courses into their lessons, field testing course utilization and effectiveness, and developing guides for dialects to develop their own courses.

Doyon Languages Online 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

For more information on the Hän language lessons and the Doyon Languages Online project, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com.

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