In this Storyteller language profile, Paul Williams, Jr. shares about his experience as a Native language teacher at Cruikshank School in Beaver, and his own journey as a student pursuing his Bachelor of Arts. Williams, Jr. has been teaching for 31 years, spanning two generations, and has taught 250 students from three generations.

You can watch or listen to Paul’s full profile, or read a transcript, with minor edits for clarity.

Naa deegoonch’yaa shalak, shijyaa kwaii? Shoozhri’ t’ee Paul Williams, Jr. Dzaa Tseeduu Cruickshank School hee geech’oaałtan ihłii. Diiginjik k’yaa agwaałtan ts’a’ geenjit shoo ihłii ts’a’ hai’ nihthan. Tr’iinin naii datthak Dinjii Zhuk K’yaa ts’a’ nats’ahts’a’ gwarandaii gogoo’ee goovoihthan geh’an t’ishi’in. Ts’a’ łyahch’yaa zhyaa geenjit K’eegwaadhat hai’ oihnyaa.

How are you all my friends and relatives? My name is Paul Williams, Jr. I am an instructor at Cruickshank School here in Beaver. I am happy to be teaching our language, and I am very grateful. I do this in the hope that all young people will learn our language and culture. I give thanks to God for this work.

My name is Paul Williams, Jr. I am a Native language certified teacher here at Cruikshank school in Beaver, Alaska, and I have my teacher’s certification here by the state of Alaska. I am working towards my Bachelor of Arts that I will receive in the near future, and I thank God for that.

I’ve been teaching for 31 years, three generations, two centuries, 250 students, and I really love my job teaching my Gwichʼin Athabascan language to our students in the Yukon Flats region.

I believe that our students can succeed in anything they choose to do in life. They believe in God and they believe in themselves and know their identity and know where they’re coming from. They’ll be successful in anything they do.

We are working really hard to put our Native language on technology and also making more flashcards, lessons and doing a lot of cultural activities: field trips, going out on the land, doing lots of hands-on hunting and fishing, sewing, and also just enjoying our natural environment that our ancestors have always enjoyed. Education is very important in both worlds.

Mahsi’ choh, ts’a’ datthak K’eegwaadhat nakhwaa’ooli’ ts’a’ gwiinzii adak’ootii. Hai’.

Thank you very much, God be with you all and take good care of yourselves. Thanks.

We are pleased to highlight the efforts of individuals committed to the revitalization of our Native languages. Find more Storyteller profiles at If you would like to nominate an individual for our Storyteller language profile series, please contact or 907.459.2048.