Foundation shares “great ideas” from 2018 grantees
The recipients of the 2018 Our Language grants, awarded by Doyon Foundation, recently completed their language revitalization projects and submitted reports detailing their efforts and outcomes.
“The 2018 Our Language grantees are a varied group of dedicated and resourceful organizations with great ideas to share with others around the region,” says Allan Hayton, the Foundation’s language revitalization program director.
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 Our Language grant program in 2012, and the Doyon Foundation language revitalization program now manages it. Since inception of the grant program, $350,000 has been awarded to support a wide range of language revitalization projects.
“The hope of the Our Language grant program is to support community efforts in strengthening languages, cultural identity, traditional wisdom and values so they may be passed on to future generations,” says Doris Miller, Foundation executive director.
The 2018 Our Language grants supported the following language revitalization projects and efforts:
Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). Jennifer Romer, ANHC’s director of education, and language instructors Alice Hess and Mellisa Heflin attended the Indigenous Language Institute (ILI) 9th Annual Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The institute “provided an opportunity to learn from successful language programs within urban and rural programming to enhance our community continuum,” Romer says. Speakers at ILI’s Institute included Laura Jagles address on “How We Carry and Bestow Knowledge,” and Madison Fulton and Eric Hardy’s look at “Historical Trauma and Cultural Resilience: An Indigenous Framework Approach to Empower Language.”
KRFF Voice of Denali 89.1. KRFF has a large collection of “word of the day” and other phrases in the many Native languages across their listenership area. They had a target of digitizing over 7,000 Native language audio clips from their radio shows. The process involved editing existing “word of the day” and “phrase of the day” electronic files and then broadcasting them out to KRFF’s listening audience in Interior Alaska and beyond. KRFF has posted the Native language clips to their Soundcloud, which can be accessed on their website.
Eagle IRA Council. The Eagle project focused on creating podcasts from books and other learning materials. A community workshop was held on how to create podcasts in the Hän language and develop more learning materials accessible through phones and other devices. The workshop created greater capacity by teaching production skills to community members, and enlisting Eagle School students’ help with the project. The project also created “daily life” instructional videos featuring Bertha Ulvi and Ethel Beck, who shared how to set rabbit snares and clean rabbits in the Hän language. Eagle plans to continue building on this project by developing and submitting a 2019 Administration for Native Americans grant proposal.
Native Village of Fort Yukon. Community youth created their own council and planned a youth and cultural language program, including year-round cultural activities where Gwich’in language is used to teach traditional activities. At a winter culture camp, a participant shared that it was “empowering to speak the language in a positive environment” among their friends. Participating youth shared their experiences on air at the KZPA radio station, highlighting the language skills and cultural knowledge learned through the activities.
Edzeno’ Native Village Council (Nikolai). A Nikolai culture/language camp was held in partnership with the Iditarod Area School District – Top of the Kuskokwim School and Telida Village Council. Nikolai Village offered a culture and language camp with a focus on preserving the Upper Kuskokwim language and igniting a spark in the younger generation. Adult participant Stephanie Petruska shares, “It was good, everything from the way they were taught to just getting together every day that week.”
Native Village of Tanacross. This project provided language and culture classes where participants recorded culture and language. The goals were to document Native culture, including stories and language, and have youth speak the language. Videos and CDs produced from this project will be provided to Tanacross School, and will be available to community members wanting to learn. The project is part of Tanacross’ ongoing push to teach traditional cultural knowledge, and bridge the gap between youth and Elders.
Tanana Tribal Council. This project promoted Denaakk’e language revitalization by encouraging language learners to practice and solidify current skills. The goal was to build a base for students to develop language-learning skills, and to create videos of language lessons. The project is a partnership between Tanana Tribal Council, Tanana City School District and Yukon-Koyukuk School District. Classroom learning opportunities were offered for students in grades K through 5 during the spring semester of the 2017 – 2018 school year and the fall semester of the 2018 – 2019. The videos created through this project are intended to supplement the formal lessons, by adding opportunities to hear the language spoken when a Denaakk’e teacher is not available.
Tetlin Village Council. Tetlin’s project “Enhancing Culture Camp with Language Sessions” took place over the summer. The focus of their project was to promote language revitalization by having local speakers work together to teach participants during the Tetlin culture and wellness camp. Learners worked with traditional stories told by Titus David and learned useful Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) Tetlin dialect expressions during the camp.
The Foundation recently announced the nine recipients of 2019 Our Language grants, which total $50,000. Read more about this year’s recipients and projects on the Foundation blog.
Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; nonprofit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers are eligible to apply and receive an Our Language grant.
For more information on the language revitalization program or Our Language grants, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact the language revitalization program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907.459.2048.
The Indigenous languages of the Doyon region:
Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana)
Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross)
Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim)
Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in)
Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana)