Language revitalization in the Doyon region took a giant leap forward this week when the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) announced that Doyon Foundation has been selected to receive a Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance grant totaling $900,000 over a three-year period.
The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region, including nine Athabascan languages plus Inupiaq, represent half of the 20 Native languages in the state of Alaska. All of the Doyon region languages are severely to critically endangered, and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. Doyon Foundation, with support from Doyon, Limited, established its language revitalization program in 2009 to support the revitalization of Interior Alaska’s Native languages.
“We are humbled and grateful to have been awarded in a highly competitive selection process. This news is very exciting, and this project will be a huge assist to those wanting to teach and learn their ancestral language,” said Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.
The grant will help fund the Doyon Languages Online project, a partnership with 7000 Languages, a nonprofit that supports endangered language learning partially through software donated by Transparent Language. The Foundation first partnered with 7000 Languages in 2014 to create and provide learning content for the languages of the Doyon region in an accessible, engaging and proven online environment.
“As Native people, our languages are part of our identity and are very precious to us. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve to have the opportunity to learn their language,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “We are honored to be able to assist in creating this learning and teaching software to further language revitalization in the Doyon region.”
During the three-year grant project, a total of 280 introductory online lessons will be created for five of the Doyon languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e, Benhti Kenaga’, Hän, and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa. Ultimately, the Foundation aims to create online courses for all of the Doyon region languages.
The lessons will be made widely available to language teachers and learners in Alaska and throughout the United States. Language teachers will also receive training in using the lessons in local educational settings, from schools to homes to community events.
“We’re thrilled that, after years of hard work, our partners at Doyon Foundation are finally getting the funding they deserve to revitalize their languages. We can’t wait to get started on this project,” said Alexa Little, executive director of 7000 Languages.
“We greatly enjoy supporting 7000 Languages, and I’m especially excited to see the Doyon Foundation 7000 Partnership using the Transparent Language technology platform for such a wonderful purpose,” said Michael Quinlan, CEO of Transparent Language, Inc.
ANA, which is an office of the Administration for Children and Families, promotes self-sufficiency and cultural preservation for Native Americans by providing discretionary grant funding for community-based projects, and training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and Native organizations.