Language Revitalization


See below for our July Native word of the month in Gwich’in!

Vits’ihnyaa = I help (him or her)
Shitsuu łuk tr’it’ii haa vits’ihnyaa geenjit shats’a’ shoo nilii. = My grandmother is happy I am helping her cut fish.

Listen to an audio recording.

JulyHai’ (thank you) to Allan Hayton for providing this month’s translation.

Have a translation in another language? Share it with us on Facebook!

Each month, a new Native word or phrase and definition will be shared on our website, as well as on our blog and Facebook page, along with an audio recording of the pronunciation.

Have an idea for a Native Word of the Month? Please email your idea to haytona@doyon.com.

teaSee below for our June Native word of the month in Gwich’in!

Lidii = Tea
Ko’ kat lidii tr’ahtsii łyaa akaii. = The tea we make on the fire sure tastes good.

Listen to an audio recording. Hai’ (thank you) to Allan Hayton for providing the translation.

 

Have a translation in another language? Share it with us on Facebook!

Each month, a new Native word or phrase and definition will be shared on our website, as well as on our blog and Facebook page, along with an audio recording of the pronunciation.

Have an idea for a Native Word of the Month? Please email your idea to haytona@doyon.com.

 

Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce the 2017 Our Language grant awardees. After careful consideration, the selection committee chose eight proposals from among an impressive round of 19 applicant organizations. The awarded projects include community language classes, language app development, language learning through song and dance, curriculum development and summer camp activities.

“The 2017 Our Language grant awardees are an outstanding group dedicated to ensuring the ancestral languages of the Doyon region continue on for future generations,” says Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.

2017 Our Language Awardees

Chalkyitsik: A project to revitalize the Draanjik Gwich’in language. The Chalkyitsik tribe seeks to add to and enhance language teaching in the school by creating language learning opportunities in the community. The project will compile lessons into book form for current and future learners.

Circle: This curriculum development and language teaching project, “Diiginjik Tr’oonta’, Holding On To Our Language,” will be a collaboration of the Circle Tribal Council, Danzhit Hanlaii Corporation, the community and Circle School. Instructor Mary Groat, assisted by Margaret Henry-John and Audrey Fields, will seek to “encourage youth to embrace, love, learn and take pride in their beautiful traditional language.” The project will offer classes throughout the summer in different locations around the community.

Grayling: This project will utilize traditional songs and dance to practice and learn the Holikachuk language. Language teachers will also teach in the classroom. The project will have two gatherings to bring Elders together and share the dances the community has learned.

Nenana: The Summer Youth Fish Camp is an annual program to connect young people with Athabascan culture and language. The Lower Tanana language is the most endangered of all the Doyon region languages, and this program is essential to instilling in younger generations the knowledge and traditions of the ancestors. This program is part of a larger community plan to address the challenges of language and culture loss.

Northway: A proposal to build a language app for the Née’aaneegn language of Northway to both preserve and teach the language. This project will be using technology developed by Native Innovation, a company based in Arizona. The app allows users to search for words in Née’aaneegn and provides the English translation, or vice-versa. It is an open source technology that will allow continued entries for no additional cost.

Ruby: This project will consolidate past language efforts and develop materials to be used by young learners. The project will begin by identifying and learning 30 essential words and phrases. They will then hold a weekly meeting to go over what they have learned, and then identify an additional 30 new words and phrases. These words and phrases will be recorded, and developed into flash cards and other materials for learners.

Tanana: This project will create video recordings of Elders speaking conversational Denaakk’e, as well as documenting traditional food gathering, medicinal plant use, and cultural activities. These videos will be used to develop pilot lesson plans for use in classrooms. The project aims to generate enthusiasm and impetus for continued language use in the school and community.

“All of these projects together embody the great hope we have for our languages, and how the languages can contribute to the success and wellbeing of our communities,” Allan shares. “It was a difficult task for the selection committee to narrow down their selections to this group of eight awardees. We thank everyone for applying, and we hope communities will submit their proposals to multiple funding organizations.”

Specifically, Doyon Foundation recognizes Arctic Village, Anvik, Dena’ Cultural Heritage Education Institute, Eagle, Hughes, Koyukuk, McGrath, Nikolai, Telida, and Tetlin, for their commitment to language revitalization.

About the Our Language Awards
The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region are all severely to critically endangered, and the Our Language grant program was developed to support the revitalization of these languages. Doyon, Limited originally established the language grant program in 2012. The Foundation’s language revitalization program now administers the grant program.

About the Language Revitalization Program

Due to the rapidly decreasing health of creative and fluent Native language speakers, the Native languages within the Doyon region are not being passed on quickly enough to ensure their survival. There is an urgent need to promote and foster language opportunities for non-speakers.

In 2009, Doyon Foundation created the language revitalization committee to respond to this need, and began creating a region-wide language revitalization program that would address one of the Foundation’s vision elements for a “Strong Demonstration of Native Traditional Language and Culture.”

In 2012, the Doyon, Limited board of directors, along with full support from Doyon President Aaron Schutt, agreed with the language revitalization committee and awarded start-up funding to establish the language revitalization program.

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

Language speakers, teachers, learners and anyone else interested in revitalizing the lIMG_1063anguages of the Doyon region are invited to the Deg Xinag and Holikachuk Language Gathering, hosted by Doyon Foundation in Holy Cross on Sunday and Monday, June 4 and 5.

The gathering will begin with dinner at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 4. A meeting will take place 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Monday, June 5. Both events will be held at the Holy Cross School, and are free of charge.

IMG_1151The event will bring together Elders, speakers, teachers, learners and other stakeholders to create momentum for current and future language revitalization initiatives.

The goal of the gathering is to create a call to action, develop practical steps toward long-range goals, and share inspiration and hope around language revitalization.

The event is sponsored by Doyon Foundation with support from the Administration for Native Americans.

To RSVP for the gathering, or for more information on the event or the language revitalization program, contact Allan Hayton at 907-459-2162 or haytona@doyon.com.

See below for our April and May Native words of the month in Gwich’in! Hai’ (thank you) to Allan Hayton for providing the translation and photography.P1120223

April 

Gwahahgo’ = It is turning springtime.

Chiitaii gwahahgo’ ts’a’ shroonch’yaa gwilii. = It is becoming springtime and nice outside.

Listen to an audio recording.

May 

Ch’at’an = Leaves

Aat’oo kat ch’at’an kwaii neegwahshii. = The leaves are spouting on the birch trees.

Listen to an audio recording.

Each month, a new Native word or phrase and definition will be shared on our website, as well as on our blog and Facebook page, along with an audio recording of the pronunciation.

Have a translation in another language? Share it with us on Facebook!

Have an idea for a Native Word of the Month? Please email your idea to haytona@doyon.com.

The Doyon Languages Online program has had a busy spring! Read on for recaps of recent activities, and be sure to subscribe to the Doyon Foundation blog to receive future monthly updates.

Here’s what you will find in our spring update:

Doyon Languages Online Project Gets Underway

Language Demos Now Available

Presenting at the Alaska Native Studies Conference

Collaborating on Language Revitalization

Get Involved


Doyon Languages Online Project Gets Underway

The Doyon Languages Online (DLO) project got underway with a gathering of educators, speakers, and curriculum developers at Doyon Foundation on Saturday, February 18, 2017. Doyon Foundation Executive Director Doris Miller along with board president Lanien Livingston welcomed key representatives from five languages: Denaakk’e, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk, and Behnti Kenaga’.

The purpose of the meeting was to begin the first phase of a three-year project to create and post basic lessons online through partner 7000 Languages. 7000 Languages is a non-profit that connects endangered language communities with the technology to teach, learn, and revive their languages. The technology used in the DLO project is donated by Transparent Language. The open source platform will have the capacity to be continually modified and added to, ensuring it will be a valuable resource for learners for many generations to come. Ultimately, the project will include all languages in the Doyon region.

The day began with attendees introducing themselves in their own languages. Eliza Jones expressed that she was happy to be involved in the project, and that “working with my Denaakk’e language is nourishment for the soul.” As we finished the circle of introductions, Minto elder Sarah Silas said she loved hearing everyone speaking Athabascan language, and to her it sounded like “the most beautiful music, like all of the birds singing together and making the most amazing song.” She inspired the room with her warm comforting smile and gave everyone love and hope. Sarah shared that she was “so happy and proud that younger people were doing this good work.”

To familiarize everyone with the Transparent Language software, attendees broke into groups and recorded short conversations in their respective languages. This activity was instructive for everyone involved, and served as a “pilot demo” for the work ahead. These demos are available to preview at the end of this article.

The group enjoyed moose soup and fry bread for lunch, prepared by Doyon Foundation admin Sommer Stickman, and the crew at Doyon Facilities. After lunch Vera Weiser brought everyone back together with an uplifting song, “Onee’,” made by Evelyn Alexander as a prayer for a safe return of her granddaughter from firefighting in the Lower 48.

Sunday, February 19 was day two of the weekend workshop, and was a smaller group that focused on creating a template or “roadmap” for the 10 units of lessons in the project. Team members shared their ideas for creating “Day 1, Lesson 1” of the first unit. A development team will create a complete document for the 10 units by July, and this document will serve as a style guide for all five languages.

The DLO project strives to create a collaborative space for all team members to produce the best learning material possible. Doyon Foundation language committee member Rochelle Adams of Beaver stated, “I’m honored to do this good work for our people. I’m grateful to work alongside our elders and to connect with others that share the same passion and fire to put the breath back into our languages!”

David Engels of Minto added, “We are good Athabascans who travel and do not forget who we are, or where we come from.”

Darren Deacon of Kalskag has always loved languages, and has studied Russian and Japanese among other languages. His family teased him that he “loved to talk so much that he had to learn five different languages so he could talk some more.” This project will provide an opportunity for him to learn his Holikachuk language.

Language committee member and Holikachuk elder Elizabeth Keating felt that “It was special, heart-warming, hopeful, exciting and more. I especially enjoyed Darren’s enthusiasm for learning our language.”

Overall, it was a great weekend, and the group represented a model of collaboration that included elders, PhD-level professors, community members, and teachers that share a passion for the ancestral languages of our region.

Alexa Little, executive director of 7000 Languages, shared after the meeting, “We do a lot of our work over video conference, so it was a special experience for me to visit Alaska and meet the Doyon Languages Online team in person. I’m so excited watching this project take shape — it’s clear that everyone involved is extremely passionate about revitalizing these languages.”


Language Demos Now Available

Doyon Languages Online (DLO) is excited to announce our first series of demo lessons! These demos were created during the February 18 and 19 kick-off meeting, and provide short examples of what the DLO project is creating.

Test out demos of lessons in Denaakk’e, Holikachuk, Hän, Benhti Kenaga’, and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) by clicking on the icons below:

Han Demo button

Benhti button

holikachuk button

dinjii button

denaakke button


Presenting at the Alaska Native Studies Conference

The 2017 Alaska Native Studies Conference was held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) April 7 – 9. Doyon Foundation staff Allan Hayton and Nathaniel Feemster presented at this year’s conference, sharing updates on the Doyon Languages Online (DLO) project.

Attendees at their presentation learned more about the DLO project, and were able to test out demos of lessons in Denaakk’e, Holikachuk, Hän, Benhti Kenaga’, and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in). Allan also facilitated a Gwich’in language preconference session along with Caroline Tritt-Frank and Kenneth Frank, and co-presented on a panel for the Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh language nest.

The 2017 Alaska Native Studies Conference was an inspiring gathering of people, ideas, and hope for the future of our languages and cultures of the Doyon region and across the state. We look forward to the 2018 conference scheduled to be held in Juneau.

See more event photos on Facebook!


Collaborating on Language Revitalization

Doyon Languages Online (DLO) is a unique collaborative effort between five languages: Denaakk’e, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Benhti Kenaga’, Hän, and Holikachuk. Due to the great distance between team members, collaboration takes place via technology such as Google Drive, email, video and teleconferencing.

We were fortunate to have everyone in the same room February 18 and 19, and we are aiming to host another gathering before July. The DLO project has held two more collaborative meetings (one on March 26 and one on April 23) via audio teleconference with the development team since the February 19 initial development meeting.

During these collaborative meetings, we share and discuss the material each language team has developed in the time between meetings. These meetings capitalize on the creativity and passion of each language team and allow them to work in conjunction, meaning that each language benefits from the work produced.

See more photos on Facebook!


Get Involved

If you’d like to get involved in the Doyon Languages Online efforts to revitalize our Native languages, or want to learn more, please contact Allan Hayton at 907.459.2162 or haytona@doyon.com, or Nathaniel Feemster at 907.459.2107 or feemstern@doyon.com.

drumSee below for our March Native word of the month in Gwich’in and Deg Xinag!

Gwich’in

Vadzaih dhaa = Caribou hide

Vadzaih dhaa haa shuh dhałtsaii. = I made a drum from caribou hide.

Listen to an audio recording. Hai’ (thank you) to Allan Hayton for providing the translation.

Deg Xinag

Ghinoy vidhith = Caribou hide

Ghinoy vidhith yił sigisrosr dhitlsenh. = I made my drum with caribou hide.

Listen to an audio recording. Dogidinh (thank you) to George Demientieff Holly for providing the translation.

Each month, a new Native word or phrase and definition will be shared on our website, as well as on our blog and Facebook page, along with an audio recording of the pronunciation.

Have a translation in another language? Share it with us on Facebook!

Have an idea for a Native Word of the Month? Please email your idea to haytona@doyon.com.

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