Doyon Foundation awards $50,000 for language revitalization projects

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Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the Our Language grant awards. This year, the Foundation is awarding a total of $50,000 to nine organizations to support community-based language revitalization projects.

“The 2019 Our Language grant awardees represent a dedicated group of community members coming together on behalf of our ancestral languages. We commend their efforts, and look forward to great outcomes from each of these projects,” says Doris Miller, executive director of Doyon Foundation.

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 address this crisis, Doyon, Limited established the language grant program in 2012, and the Doyon Foundation language revitalization program now manages it.

“Each year the situation for our languages grows more urgent, and the call to action ever louder and clearer. Doyon Foundation is proud to support our communities and their efforts to learn and teach the languages passed down to us from our grandparents,” says Allan Hayton, the Foundation’s language revitalization program director.

This year’s grant awards are even more significant, as 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, as recognized by the United Nations. “Languages play a crucial role in our daily lives. They are not only our first medium for communication, education and social integration, but are also at the heart of each person’s unique identity, cultural history and memory,” states the UN website.

“Each of the languages in the Doyon region deserve our daily recognition in 2019, and every year,” Hayton urges. “Get involved, learn, teach, speak your language each and every day.”

The 2019 Our Language grant recipients include:

Athabascan Fiddlers Association. KRFF 89.1 Voice Of Denali broadcasts across the Doyon region, with listeners regularly calling in to contribute to the “Native Word of the Day” and “Phrase of the Day” in the many languages across the region. KRFF’s Our Language grant project involves isolating, cataloging and archiving digital copies of these words and phrases for use in current and future revitalization efforts throughout Interior Alaska. The files will be accessible to learners on the KRFF website.

Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. A project entitled “Gwich’in Language Learning & Material Creation Around Salmon Fishing” will create language-learning opportunities and materials centered around traditional Gwich’in subsistence activities. The project is scheduled to take place in summer 2019, during the Yukon River king salmon runs in late June and early July. Lessons will be centered around the smokehouse along the Yukon River within the village.

Fairbanks Native Association. The Denaakk’e Hʉdełnekkaa are a parent group for students enrolled in the Denaakk’e Head Start program, which is currently in its second year with 15 3 to 5-year-olds enrolled. The goal of the Denaakk’e Hʉdełnekkaa parent group is to support one another, and in turn support the children and teachers in learning and speaking the Denaakk’e language. This project will engage in learning games and activities, work with Elders, meet regularly to learn Denaakk’e, and maintain an open invitation to others interested in learning Denaakk’e.

Koyukuk Tribal Council. This project will create and organize a Denaakk’e language revitalization program, with a mission “to sustain our cultural heritage, traditional lifestyle and healthy environment for future generations.” The project will engage in community language planning, teaching and storytelling through the use of video, posting local place and building names in Denaakk’e language, and fostering a learning environment within the community.

Organized Village of Grayling. This project will involve an 11-week course with 51 students, drawing from lessons created with knowledgeable Elders. Coordinators will create basic word and phrase lists, develop lesson plans, and arrange classes with the goal of all participants mastering basic conversational skills in Holikachuk language. Older students will assist in the recording of lessons, as well as help with teaching younger students.

Native Village of Minto. Tr’ukheyiyh, “We are talking,” is a one-year pilot project that will utilize real-world immersion and online tools to provide language learners of all levels easier access and greater retention by providing a foundation to start, continue or contribute to community language revitalization efforts. The project will draw from new and existing content for Benthi Kokhut’ana Kenaga’, and plans to utilize in-person lesson instruction, summer cultural camp immersion, and recorded lessons shared via YouTube.

Nulato Tribal Council. This project will work to translate the 1983 Central Koyukon workbook into the Lower Koyukon language. There will also be an accompanying video of translations, which will be posted online for learners. All Nulato and Kaltag tribal members will have access via www.nulatotribe.net.

Tanana Tribal Council. The Tanana Cooperative Community Language Preservation and Revitalization Project will continue to create interactive video lessons to teach common phases and conversations by Elders who speak Denaakk’e as used in Tanana, and share materials both in cultural camps and in classrooms.

Tetlin Village Council. This project will focus on promoting the Tetlin dialect of the Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) language through two sessions at Tetlin Culture Days. The sessions support the Tetlin Community Plan priority to “promote language preservation by proactively encouraging cultural activities that bring the community together.” Participants will be provided with copies of the Upper Tanana alphabet, as well as books and CDs from Elders Roy and Cora David.

Last year, the Foundation awarded nine grants totaling $64,000 to support projects including professional development, radio broadcasts, teacher training, audio and video lesson development, language immersion activities, culture camps, and lesson plan development. Read more about the 2018 grant projects on our blog.

For more information on the language revitalization program or Our Language grants, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact the language revitalization program at foundation@doyon.com or 907.459.2048

The Indigenous languages of the Doyon region:

  • Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana)
  • Deg Xinag
  • Denaakk’e (Koyukon)
  • Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross)
  • Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim)
  • Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in)
  • Hän
  • Holikachuk
  • Inupiaq
  • Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana)

Foundation to Award $64,000 to Nine Organizations 

 

Doyon Foundation has selected nine organizations to receive Our Language grants totaling $64,000 this year. Recipients include:

  • Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) – Indigenous Language Institute Annual Symposium in October 2018. With this grant support, ANHC will send its language project director and two language project instructors to the annual symposium, allowing project staff to learn directly from organizations and individuals running language revitalization programs across the U.S.

 

  • KRFF – Athabascan Fiddlers Association, Inc. (AFA) Word of the Day and Phrase of the Day Language Project through December 2018. AFA plans to edit KRFF 89.1 FM’s existing “Word of the Day” and “Phrase of the Day” electronic files and broadcast them out to KRFF’s listening audience in the interior of Alaska and beyond.

 

  • Native Village of Eagle – Revitalization of Hän Language Project through fall 2019. Through this project, the village will provide a forum for fluent Hän Hwëch’in speakers to become teachers. By the end of summer 2018, the goal is to have at least two fluent speakers living in the village providing language lessons to others in the community. By the end of the year, the project seeks to have audio lessons available to those outside the village.

 

  • Native Village of Fort Yukon – Youth and Cultural Language Program through October 2018. Community youth have their own council and have planned year-round cultural activities, which will have Gwich’in language immersed throughout. CDs will also be produced for local radio and presentations on the language skills and cultural knowledge learned through the activities.

 

  • Native Village of Tetlin – Enhancing Culture Camp with Language Sessions in June 2018. During the culture camp, participants will be exposed to language materials and learn basic Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) Tetlin dialect expressions.

 

  • Nikolai Village – Nikolai Culture/Language Camp in August 2018. In partnership with the Iditarod Area School District – Top of the Kuskokwim School and Telida Village Council, Nikolai Village will offer a culture and language camp with a focus on preserving the Upper Kuskokwim language and igniting a spark in the younger generation.

 

  • Tanacross – Language and Culture Classes through September 2018. The effort will include recording culture and language, offering regular culture and language meetings, and documenting Native culture, including stories and language, with an overall goal of having youth speak the language.

 

  • Tanana Tribal Council – Tanana Cooperative Community Language Preservation and Revitalization Project through September 2018. This project will continue and expand work started in 2017 by creating video recordings of Elders, developing and piloting lesson plans, encouraging multi-generational learning, and building on previous Where Are Your Keys workshops.

 

  • Yukon Flats School District – Honoring the Past, Building for the Future Through Gwich’in Language through September 2018. In collaboration with the Council of Athabascan Tribal Government, the project will promote language revitalization through professional development of current Gwich’in language and culture teachers.

The goal of the Our Language grant program is to support efforts to revitalize the endangered languages of the Doyon region, which include Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana), Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Deg Xinag, Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga (Lower Tanana), Holikachuk, and Inupiaq.

Doyon, Limited originally established the language grant program in 2012. The Foundation’s language revitalization program now administers the grants, which are available to Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; nonprofit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers.

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

 

Language learners from the communities of Rampart and Tanana came together for a five-day Denaakk’e workshop at the Rampart Community Hall July 11 – 15, 2016. The goal of the workshop, which was funded in part by an Our Language grant from Doyon Foundation, was for learners to be able to introduce themselves in Denaakk’e. Participants also learned common greetings and traditional place names. Each learner made a book of nouns and book of verbs in order to use the content in different combinations to create new and complete sentences.

Patty Elias, Faith Peters and Helen Peters traveled from Tanana to Rampart, joining Mary Ann Wiehl, Paul Evans, Jr., Brittany Woods-Orrison, Brook Wright, Frank Yaska, Liyana Woods, Ariyah Woods, Darian Woods, Ian Woods, Tristan Woods, David Wiehl, Jr., Janet Woods, Jennifer Wiehl, Sandy Cummings, Georgianna Lincoln, Toni Mallot, Joni Newman, Natalie Newman, Dee Wiehl, Fayleen Peters and Yavonne Woods, and the most important person of all, Rosemary Wiehl, who was hired as the cook for the week. In all, 25 people participated throughout the week.

Participants learned introductions, kinship terms, common expressions, verb conjugations, family trees, and traditional place names. A song was also created for Tanana Chiefs Conference Tobacco Prevention Program. The song will be featured in a play written by Frank Yaska, which will be touring six villages this school year.

During the workshop, Elder and teacher Helen Peters worked with everyone on how to make the sounds needed to speak correctly. A big highlight was a 4-year-old participant introducing herself, who her parents are, and that she lives in Rampart.

The workshop culminated in a community gathering where everyone enjoyed a meal of moose soup, king salmon, salads, fry bread and cake. The group held an overview of the week and selected what was to be incorporated in interactive books. They also developed a language plan to be used in the school this year, and have plans to meet monthly and practice their language to continue this revitalization effort.

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.