Congratulations to Doyon Foundation board member Allan Hayton, who was featured today in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

Allan is playing King Lear in “Lear Khehkwaii,” a “uniquely Alaskan adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy,” put on by Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre. Allan and director Tom Robenolt have worked together for more than a year on the play, which is divided equally between English and the Athabascan language of Gwich’in.

After its opening run in Fairbanks, the production will tour schools in Anchorage, Tok, Nenana, Healy, Kotzebue, Nome and Arctic Village.

Read more at http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/shakespeare-in-alaska-collaboration-turns-king-lear-into-a-gwich/article_61c3b424-9a9c-11e2-98d7-001a4bcf6878.html.

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

“In 5 to 10 years, language extinction is possible,” said Wesley Roberts Dalton, former vice president of the Doyon Foundation board of directors and former chair of the Foundation’s language revitalization committee.

To address this critical issue, Doyon Foundation is launching the Language Revitalization Program, a comprehensive, region-wide program to capture, preserve, share and perpetuate Athabascan languages.

Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization committee has been working on this goal for almost four years.  A 10-year strategic plan and program proposal were developed, and the committee is now working on a business plan. The committee also researched many different language-learning software and technology options before selecting the Byki language-learning program, offered by Transparent Language, which has helped millions of individuals learn new languages and is used by more than 12,000 schools and universities, including top government language schools.

The committee and Foundation staff also developed one- to five-year goals. Some first-year goals include hiring a language revitalization program director, building relationships and collaborating with like-minded partners, securing additional funding, and creating a pilot language learning program, among other tasks.

“The Doyon Foundation program could grow into a multi-million dollar, grant-funded department. That’s been demonstrated by other Native corporations in the state,” Dalton said. “We can become leaders in language revitalization.”

Earlier this year, the Doyon, Limited board of directors approved a resolution and a $150,000 contribution to the Foundation to establish and operate the first year of the program.

“The resolution reaffirms the board’s mission to strengthen our Native way of life and support the Doyon Foundation, which provides educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders,” said Aaron Schutt, Doyon, Limited president and CEO.

“Providing cultural opportunities and a strong demonstration of Native traditional language and culture is at the core of Doyon Foundation’s mission and vision,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “Doyon’s support of this program will enable us to make significant strides toward the revitalization of our Native languages, which is critical for their survival. We are grateful beyond words for Doyon, Limited’s support.”

The need for the program is clear: According to the Alaska Native Language Center, there are less than 500 speakers of the nine Athabascan languages in the Doyon region. Gwich’in and Koyukon have the most, with 150 speakers. Most of the others have fewer than 30 speakers.

In addition to the declining number of speakers, there are insufficient numbers of qualified Athabascan language teachers, and there is not a solid, region-wide language revitalization effort to provide easily accessible language programs.

But this need is not just about language; it is also about bringing positive change to the people of the Doyon region. Research has shown that the ability to speak one’s language is essential to strong self-identity, self-esteem and the perpetuation of cultural beliefs, values and traditions.

A quote from Victor Nicholas, Doyon, Limited board vice president and Doyon Foundation board member, sums it up. “It’s our language – it’s who we are,” he said.

The development of this program has been a labor of love for the Foundation’s language committee members, including Chair Paul Mountain, Lorraine David, Wesley Roberts Dalton, Teisha Simmons, Patricia Paul, Alan Hayton, Polly E. Hyslop and Susan Paskvan, as well as many others who have volunteered their time.

“These individuals have demonstrated their deep commitment to our people and culture by volunteering countless hours researching the need, similar programs and possible solutions, as well as building relationships and developing a plan for the program. We are deeply grateful for their efforts and look forward to seeing our vision come to life,” Miller said.

Be part of an exciting new program while playing a critical role in the survival of Alaska Native languages. Doyon Foundation is seeking a program director for its brand new Language Revitalization Program, a comprehensive, region-wide program to capture, preserve, share and perpetuate Athabascan languages.

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

For the past three years, Doyon Foundation has worked to develop a plan to address this crucial need. With first-year funding in hand, the Foundation is ready to launch this exciting new program, and is looking for an experienced, passionate person to lead this new endeavor.

Want to be involved in ensuring the survival of Interior Alaska’s Native languages? Click here for more information or apply online today!