$812,142 ANA grant will help increase proficient speakers of endangered Native languages

Doyon Foundation has received a three-year, $812,142 federal grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) to fund a new mentor-apprentice program as part of its efforts to revitalize the 10 endangered languages of the Doyon region in Interior Alaska. The grant falls under ANA’s Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance program, and will provide funding from 2021 to 2024.

All 10 of the Doyon region’s languages are in extreme danger of extinction. The 2020 Interior Alaska Language Revitalization Survey showed the majority of respondents want to improve their speaking ability, with the goal of passing languages on to the next generation. However, there are few opportunities for learners to connect with fluent speakers in an immersive environment, which is a critical component to becoming proficient in a language.

With the ANA grant funding, Doyon Foundation will be able to launch a mentor-apprentice program, which will match interested learners with fluent speakers who will guide them to becoming proficient speakers of endangered Doyon region languages. In return, language learners who complete an apprenticeship will give back to their language community as a mentor, instructor or lesson developer.

“Mentor-apprentice teams will spend time together ‘living life in the language’ using only their Native language. Apprentices will also teach their Native language to others, creating a ripple effect in language learning throughout the region,” said Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.

Doyon Foundation is currently seeking job applicants for a project manager for the mentor-apprentice program. Interested applicants should review the job description and apply online at www.doyon.com before the November 5, 2021, close date. The Foundation expects to begin recruiting for program participants in summer 2022, with a focus on Doyon, Limited shareholders who want to learn one of their region’s Native languages: 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).

The mentor-apprentice program is the latest effort in Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program. In 2019, the Foundation launched Doyon Languages Online, which offers online language courses for free to all interested learners. Courses in Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), and Holikachuk are currently available. Courses in Deg Xinag, Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Hän, and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) are nearing completion. Interested learners can find more information and sign up for free at www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

Doyon Foundation is the private nonprofit foundation for Doyon, Limited. Its mission is to provide educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders. For more information on Doyon Foundation and its language revitalization efforts, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton, language revitalization program manager, at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.