The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region are all severely to critically endangered, and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. To support the revitalization of Interior Alaska’s Native languages, Doyon Foundation will award a total of six grants of up to $5,000 each. The deadline to submit a proposal is Friday, February 24, 2017, at 5 p.m. Applications are available on the Foundation website. grant-flyer-jpeg

Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; not-for-profit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers are eligible to apply for an Our Language grant.

Grant proposals must include a project description and timeline; plan for language documentation; project budget; completed community language survey; letter of support from village council or tribal office; and community language plan (optional).

Doyon, Limited originally established the language grant program in 2012. The grants are now being administered by the Doyon Foundation language revitalization program, which was created in 2009.

“We were very happy with the 2016 projects that were awarded, and look forward to this year’s round of proposals. These awards are essential to building momentum for language revitalization in our Doyon region communities” said Allan Hayton, director of the language revitalization program. “Our board and staff are committed to ensuring that current and future generations of Athabascan people have the opportunity to hear, to learn, and to speak the language of our ancestors.”

The endangered languages of the Doyon region include Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Deg Xinag, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk, Tanacross, Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana), and Inupiaq.

An application packet, with complete details and instructions, is available on the Doyon Foundation website. Additional information is also available by contacting Sommer Stickman, Doyon Foundation administrative assistant, at stickmans@doyon.com or 907-459-2048.

Editor’s note: Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jennie Irwin, who passed away on January 18, 2017. Jennie is pictured below in several of the photos from the Nenana Fish Camp.

The Nenana Native Association and Toghotthele Corporation hosted their annual Fish Camp July 18 – 29, 2016. The camp, organized by Janet Allen, Jeri Knabe and Amanda Salmon, and staffed by Kelly Ann Burke, Tracy Snow and Lynn Puryear, was open to all. Children and families from neighboring communities and many from the “non-Native” community attended the camp. Doyon Foundation’s Our Language grant and Doyon, Limited’s Daaga’ Awards were among the funders for this year’s Fish Camp, which promotes Lower Tanana Athabascan values of knowledge and respect for culture and heritage.

Lower Tanana language was a cornerstone of this year’s camp, and the children learned the names for parts of the human body, greetings, familial names, and how to identify many different animals in the language. They also had a great time singing songs in their ancestral language loudly and with confidence.

Parents have reported that their children have retained the knowledge from the camp – and are now sharing with the community. Carol Thomas shared, “I really enjoyed talking with my granddaughter about what she had learned during each day.” Lilly O’Brien, parent of two attendees, said, “I think my girls learned this year – they learn more and more every year.”

“I am confident that if you asked my kids if they would rather spend two weeks at fish camp – or two weeks at Disneyland – that they would choose Fish Camp.” – Tracy Snow

Camp attendees also went berry picking, took boat rides, learned camping and safety skills, and made many crafts. All attendees – kids, staff, elders and parents – truly enjoyed all aspects of Fish Camp. The kids enjoyed the games, the field trips and the food. The adults enjoyed talking with the kids about what they had learned. Adults also took pride in the fact that their children are now singing at cultural events and encouraging others to do so.

Attendees talked about goals for next year, including having kids stay at camp during bad weather to get a feel for what fish camp is “really” like during less-than-favorable conditions. They would also like to put additional focus on camping skills, such as setting up camp, collecting wood, tanning hides or collecting the birch bark for baskets. Parents would like their children learning skills from the beginning (collecting materials) to the end (finished product).

Each year families enjoy coming together at “Toghotthele,” which means “mountain that parallels the river,” to learn the language, music, and ways of the ancestors. Tracy Snow, staff and parent of four attendees, shared, “I am proud that my kids can sing and dance and speak at cultural events, and that they enthusiastically ask others to participate too.”

For more information on the Our Language grants or Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.

Doyon Foundation is happy to announce the 2016 Our Language grant awardees. The Foundation received 17 proposals for consideration this year. After careful review and evaluation by the selection committee, nine proposals have been fully or partially funded, with awards totaling $50,000. Of this year’s recipients, seven are first-time awardees.

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.

This year’s funded projects represent many different aspects of language revitalization, from documentation to curriculum development to summer camp activities. The 2016 Our Language grants will help to fund the following efforts:

Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC): ANHC will offer eight language immersion sessions (two Saturdays per month) from November to February in Koyukon and Gwich’in. Experienced instructors will work with eight apprentices. The goal of these sessions is to develop a cohort of new language instructors.

Anvik: Deg Xinag Digitization Project. The Anvik Tribal Council will promote language revitalization by digitizing Deg Xinag language recordings collected over 40-plus years. These recordings represent stories, language lessons, history, knowledge and culture from elders that have passed on. These items will be converted into digital-format DVDs and MP4s to reach younger generations.

Eagle: This project involves working with fluent speakers to integrate language into key cultural activities, including hunting, fishing, sewing, drum and canoe making, with a goal to provide context and greater meaning for learners. Eagle is incorporating this project into a larger initiative supported by CIRI Foundation’s Journey to What Matters, which focuses on revitalizing traditional arts and crafts.

Huslia: Denaakk’e Hustlers Project. In Huslia this summer, youth workers will develop basic Denaakk’e lessons with instructor Susan Paskvan. Young people will collect lessons and other materials from elders and share them with other language-learners by posting online. “We live in a changing world … and we have to bridge the gap between elders and youth. This project is one way that we can bring young and old together around language,” wrote Tribal Administrator Shandara Swatling.

Koyukuk: Four community elders will instruct a class for adult language learners, with the aim to “speak in full sentences.” The adults will be immersed in the language, and will themselves become instructors by passing the language they learn on to young people.

Nenana: This project will integrate language learning into summer camp activities. Language topics will include familial terms, greetings, names for different plants, animals, days of the week, tools and materials. Students will also learn Athabascan songs and dances. The lessons will be shared using the Where Are Your Keys method, and documented for future learners.

Nikolai: Denak’i Nots’whtolnich. This project will gather elders together to speak Denak’i, and document the stories, songs, knowledge and insights they share. Nikolai has listed language as a high priority among their community goals.

Northway: This project will support weekly language instruction and materials for grades K-5 at the Walter Northway School. Instructor Lorraine Titus will teach language through songs and dances of the Northway Tribe. Lorraine also offers cultural nights, an annual summer camp, and other events during the school year. “This project is just a part of the bigger effort to support continued teaching of the Northway language,” said Tribal Administrator Nichol Rallo.

Rampart: The communities of Rampart and Tanana will collaborate on a language course at the Rampart Community Hall. The goal is for learners to be able to introduce themselves in Denaakk’e, and learn common greetings and traditional place names. Each learner will also make a book of nouns and verbs. Learners will be able to use the content in different combinations to create new and complete sentences.

Each of the projects also include plans to document language through the use of audio and video recordings, and some grant recipients will be posting their work online and social media. Watch the Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/doyonfoundation, for updates on the projects as they progress.

“There were many fine proposals this year, and the selection committee regrets that we cannot fund them all,” said Allan Hayton, Foundation language revitalization program director. “It is encouraging to see the range of proposals and the various activities planned to revitalize ancestral languages across the region. Doyon Foundation commends everyone for their commitment to the future of our languages, and encourages continued planning, and creative thinking for how we will continue our languages into the future.”

For more information on the grants or Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.

The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region are all severely to critically endangered, and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. To support the revitalization of Interior Alaska’s Native languages, Doyon Foundation will award a total of six grants of up to $5,000 each. The deadline to submit a proposal is February 12, 2016 at 5 p.m.

Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; not-for-profit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers are eligible to apply for an “Our Language” grant.

Grant proposals must include a project description and timeline; plan for language documentation; project budget; completed community language survey; letter of support from village council or tribal office; and community language plan (optional).

Doyon, Limited originally established the language grant program in 2012. The grants are now being administered by the Doyon Foundation language revitalization program, which was created in 2009.

“As momentum continues to build towards greater protection for and revitalization of Alaska Native languages across the state, Doyon Foundation is positioned to assume a leadership role in Interior Alaska,” said Allan Hayton, director of the language revitalization program. “Our board and staff are committed to ensuring that current and future generations of Athabascan people have the opportunity to hear, to learn, and to speak the language of our ancestors.”

The endangered languages of the Doyon region include Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Deg Xinag, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk, Tanacross, Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana), and Inupiaq.

An application packet, with complete details and instructions, is available on the Doyon Foundation website. Additional information is also available on the grant flyer or by contacting Sommer Stickman, Doyon Foundation administrative assistant, at stickmans@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.