Twenty-three years ago, Kapniaq Lorena Williams and Taġġaq Lawrence Kaplan recorded a CD to teach the Iñupiaq language to interested learners. Today, their work is available as the most recent online course released through Doyon Languages Online.

This is the first Iñupiaq course published in Doyon Languages Online, a project to increase the number of people who can speak the endangered Native languages of the Doyon region. Doyon Languages Online courses are available for free to all interested learners, who can sign up at

About the course

The original Iñupiaq Phrases and Conversations course was recorded as a CD audio course in 2000 by Kapniaq Lorena Williams and Taġġaq Lawrence Kaplan. The online Iñupiaq language lessons are the result of a partnership between Doyon Foundation, Transparent Language and the nonprofit 7000 Languages.

The original course was recorded in the Qikiqtaġruŋmiutun (Kotzebue dialect) of Taġiuġmiutun (Coastal Malimiut). This dialect is somewhat different than Kuuvaŋmiutun (Upper Kobuk dialect) spoken in Alaasuq (Alatna).

The phrases and conversation in this course are part of daily life in Northwest Alaska. The course begins with an atchagat (alphabet course), and students can learn many phrases and structures that allow them to speak conversational Iñupiaq.

About the language

Iñupiaq is the language of the Iñupiat, spoken from Uŋalaqłiq (Unalakleet), across Northwest and Northern Alaska all the way to Iñuuvik (Inuvik) in Northwest Territories in Canada. Iñupiaq is spoken in many varieties, with two main varieties: Seward Peninsula and Northern Alaskan Iñupiaq (Malimiut and North Slope). Iñupiaq has been spoken in three Doyon communities for several generations: Alaasuq (Alatna), Atchiiniq (Evansville) and Ts’aahudaaneek’onh Denh (Beaver).

Though there are currently an estimated 1,400 first-language speakers of Iñupiaq in Iñupiat Nunaat (Iñupiaq lands), thousands more Iñupiat are learning and teaching uqausiqput (our language) today.

“We are bringing back Iñupiaq as a spoken daily language after others tried to steal our language away,” the course authors shared. “Iñupiaq is a living and modern language that evolves and adapts, just like our people have. By participating in this course, you can help carry on the Iñupiaq language for generations to come. Qapiġnata! (Let’s not give up!)”

About the authors

Kapniaq Lorena Williams was born in Kotzebue (Qikiqtaġruk), Alaska, on August 3, 1938. She was raised in Noatak, Alaska. She graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in May 1957, and has studied at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), where she received a certificate in Iñupiaq language, as well as at George Fox extension bible school. She also ministered at the Alaska yearly meeting of Quaker Friends church.

Lorena has been a passionate advocate of the Iñupiaq language and culture for her entire life. She taught Iñupiaq at Kotzebue Middle High School in the 1980s, at UAF from 1993 – 2000, and at UAF Chukchi Campus from 2001 to present. In 2000, she along with Larry Kaplan designed Iñupiaq Phrases and Conversations, a phrasebook course that is used to this day to learn Iñupiaq by many generations of learners. She was married to the late Whittier Williams (Aglu) and has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Lawrence “Larry” Kaplan (Taġġaq) was born and raised in Los Angeles and grew up around several different languages, spoken at home and by his playmates. He graduated with a PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 1979 and first started working with Iñupiaq in a UCSD class where students worked with the late Edith Rowray of Utqiaġvik and attempted to begin understanding her language. 

Larry is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he taught linguistics and Alaska Native languages from 1974 – 2018. He was also director of the Alaska Native Language Center from 2000 – 2018. He has worked as a linguist with the Iñupiaq language for many decades and has published books, dictionaries and articles to help revitalize Iñupiaq. He hopes this course will help maintain Iñupiaq as a language spoken by many generations to come.

Myles Creed (Iyaġak) was born in Fairbanks and raised in Kotzebue (Qikiqtaġruk). His ancestry is English, Irish and French. He is a linguist and PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of Victoria and has been lucky to learn Iñupiaq from Dr. Edna Ahgeak MacLean (Paniattaaq), Dr. Larry Kaplan, Lorena Williams (Kapniaq) and Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, and from and with many others.

He has been involved with many language efforts including Iḷisaqativut, the Iñupiaq Facebook project, as well as supporting Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online and Mentor-Apprentice Programs.

Quyanaqpauraq, thank you

Doyon Foundation would like to say quyanaqpauraq to Kapniaq Lorena Williams, Dr. Paniattaaq Edna Ahgeak MacLean, the late Tatqaviñ Ruthie Sampson and all of our Elders, past and present, for teaching us our language and culture. 

We also extend gratitude to the linguists who supported this course development, including Dr. Larry Kaplan and Myles Creed, as well as Doyon Foundation staff, Allan Diton Hayton and Petey Roach. Additional thanks to Transparent Language, 7000 Language and Doyon, Limited.

This online course was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Educational Program, award # S356A220042.

About 7000 Languages

7000 Languages empowers communities around the world to teach, learn and sustain their endangered languages. They are a 501(c)(3) public charity whose vision is one where all communities have the resources and opportunities to reclaim, strengthen and revitalize their languages. 

About Doyon Languages Online

Doyon Foundation continues to expand the number of courses available through Doyon Languages Online. Current course offerings include:

  • Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana) (Doyon Languages Online course, plus online course based on the work of the late Ellen Frank)
  • Deg Xinag
  • Denaakk’e (Koyukon) (Doyon Languages Online course, plus online course based on the work of Agnes Moore)
  • Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) (Doyon Languages Online course, plus online course based on the work of Irene Arnold)
  • Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim)
  • Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in)
  • Doogh Qinag (Holikachuk)
  • Hän (Doyon Languages Online course, plus special memorial course based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby)
  • Iñupiaq (based on the work of Lorena Williams and Larry Kaplan)
  • Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) (Doyon Languages Online course, plus online course based on the work of Avis Sam)

Doyon Languages Online courses are available for free to all interested learners. Students can sign up and access the courses from a desktop or laptop computer, or via the Transparent Language app available for both Apple and Android mobile devices and tablets.

For more information on the Doyon Languages Online, please visit or contact 907.459.2048 or For assistance signing up for or using Doyon Languages Online, view the instructional video series on YouTube.