13 recipients receive $5,000 awards for language revitalization projects

Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce its 2021 Our Language grant recipients. A total $65,000 will be awarded to 13 organizations to support language revitalization projects across the Doyon region. The 2021 Our Language grant recipients include:

Athabascan Fiddlers Association

Project title: Native Language Digital Archive

This project will work to preserve spoken examples of Alaska Native languages for use in current and future efforts to revitalize them throughout Interior Alaska. The project archivist will extract 1,000 audio files from “Word of the Day” and “Phrase of the Day” programs. Audio files to be posted on KRFF website.

Beaver Village Council

Project title: Canvas Canoe Making Project

This project will build traditional canvas canoes, documenting the process and the Gwich’in words and phrases for each step. A 20-page booklet with simple sentences describing each activity will be produced and shared through social media.

Birch Creek Tribal Council

Project title: Birch Creek Elder Stories

This project will record five life stories from Elders in the Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) language. Stories will be transcribed in English, capturing the story in the Elder’s own words. A PowerPoint presentation will also be created, showing the Elder’s video story in Gwich’in and the written version side by side. The presentation will be made accessible on YouTube or other social media sites.

Circle Tribal Council

Project title: Circle Elder Stories

This project will record Elders or fluent individuals in the community and produce a DVD for distribution. Stories will have accompanying lessons to include the alphabet, numbers, colors, animals and traditional activities, such as muskratting, beaver trapping, fishing, and fish wheel building.

Dodi Zrunh Consulting, LLC

Project title: Dratakh Chelik

This project will create a Dratakh Chilik (Crying Song) song book based on a CD from the 1970s that has 30 songs. This song book will be easy to read for all age groups, while giving a meaning of the words in the songs. In addition, the composer and who they made the song for will be named.

Holy Cross Tribal Council

Project title: Ałixi Gitr’idalyayh “We are Singing Together”

This project will record children of Shageluk/Anvik/Holy Cross/Grayling singing in Deg Xinag from the songbook, Gileg. The goal is to have more Deg Xinag songs sung at events such as weddings, potlucks, school settings, the Athabascan Fiddle Festival and on social media.

Hughes Village Council

Project title: Denaayeets (Our Breath)

This project will host weekly cultural gatherings with at least one Elder language teacher present. The goal is to have high community participation in these gatherings so that all community members will understand basic Denaakk’e vocabulary and practical phases. 


Project title: Dinak’i Curriculum Project

This project will provide teaching materials for McGrath School, including Native language flashcards, Native language classroom aids for classroom displays, Native language daily-word flip calendar, and hall posters for the promotion of Native language.  

Minto Village Council

Project title: Benhti Kenaga’ Documentaries

This project will make two short documentaries, featuring the sled making process, while identifying sled parts and verbs in Denakenaga’, and how to produce brain-tanned smoked moose skin.

Nulato Tribal Council

Project title: Lower Koyukon Learning Materials

This project will develop a practical and accessible set of language-learning materials, including a short guide for writing and pronouncing written Lower Koyukon, a more extensive account of the structure of Lower Koyukon verbs, and a full primer, or introductory handbook, for use with the Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary.

Tanan Ch’at’oh

Project title: The Tanan Ch’at’oh Project

The goal of this project is to launch a full immersion Gwich’in language nest, Tanan Ch’at’oh, in Fairbanks in the spring 2021. The language nest will educate children in the Gwich’in language up to kindergarten. A Tanan Ch’at’oh intern will be hired and they will be expected to increase their own fluency in Gwich’in by learning the phrases that students are using in the classroom and using those phrases with the students. This will increase the fluency of one staff member to support student learning.


Project title: Tetlin Village Council Culture Camp

The purpose of this project is to revitalize the Upper Tanana language through a culture camp in Tetlin, in which 15 youth participants will engage in Elder-led language sessions. During the culture camp, Elders and adults will teach traditional singing and dancing sessions. 

Yukon Flats School District

Project title: Gwich’in Curriculum Project

The purpose of this project is to revitalize the Gwich’in language by teaching participants how to introduce themselves in Gwich’in, helping students create a family ancestry history and present their family ancestry, and learning and practicing with Elders. At least five Elders and five youth will participate in the language project.

Doyon Foundation, with support from Doyon, Limited, awards Our Language grants annually, in a continuing effort to revitalize the endangered Native languages of the Doyon region. Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; nonprofit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers were eligible to apply.

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. These languages are 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 and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana).

For additional information, visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.