Language Revitalization Program

The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region, including nine Athabascan languages plus Iñupiaq, represent half of the 20 Native languages in the state of Alaska. Due to the rapidly decreasing health of creative and fluent Native language speakers, the Native languages within the Doyon region are not being passed on quickly enough to ensure their survival. All of the Doyon region languages are severely to critically endangered, and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. There is an urgent need to promote and foster language opportunities for non-speakers.

To respond to this need, Doyon Foundation began laying the groundwork for a region-wide language revitalization program in 2009. In 2012, Doyon, Limited generously awarded start-up funding to establish the program. The program has continued to grow since then.

We believe that every Doyon shareholder and descendant should have the opportunity to learn their language and culture. With that in mind, our immediate program goals are to:

  • Expand the organizational capacity of Doyon Foundation to effectively and efficiently develop, implement and sustain a Native language revitalization program.
  • Develop a language revitalization program that will ensure the cultures and languages of the Doyon region are taught, documented and easily accessible.

Our language revitalization program is not intended to replace any other current efforts, but rather to collaborate and partner with like-minded organizations, and align efforts, goals and resources.

Language Program Strategic Plan

Doyon Foundation is committed to ensuring that current and future generations have the opportunity to hear, to learn, and to speak the language of our ancestors. The Doyon Foundation Language Revitalization Strategic Plan 2018-2021 is our roadmap towards that vision. The plan provides a general strategy for moving forward through the identification of key areas of focus, long-term goals, and short-term actions.

Learn your language with Doyon Languages Online

Doyon Languages Online is a partnership between Doyon Foundation and 7000 Languages, a nonprofit that supports endangered language learning through software donated by Transparent Language.

The project is creating introductory online lessons for nine of the 10 of the endangered Doyon region languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana). The first set of online courses were made available in summer 2019, and are now available for free to all interested learners.

Doyon Languages Online is funded by a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), awarded in 2016, and an additional three-year grant from the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP), awarded in 2017.

Native Word of the Month

Each month, we share a new Native word or phrase and definition here on the website, along with an audio recording of the pronunciation. Have a translation in another language? Share it with us on Facebook! Have an idea for a Native Word of the Month? Please email your idea to haytona@doyon.com.

Our Language grants

Each year, in a continuing effort to revitalize the endangered Native languages of the Doyon region, Doyon Foundation awards grants of up to $5,000 to support language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region.

Language resources

Access our free language-learning resources, including a Doyon region language map, name tags, stickers and more.

Language revitalization committee

We are grateful for our language revitalization committee, which guides the development of our language revitalization program and subsequent language projects. This committee represents shareholders, descendants and tribal members from the region’s nine languages. It meets monthly and is composed of Doyon Foundation board members and volunteer community members, who have expertise and interest in language revitalization.

Language champions

As we continue to grow our language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region, we believe it is important to recognize people who are committed to learning and perpetuating their ancestral language. We are pleased to share some of these “language champion” profiles with you.

Cora Demit

Language Champion: Cora Demit

“I was determined to keep my language”- Cora Demit A fluent speaker in the Upper Tanana language Nee’aanèegn’, Cora S. Demit is an Elder from Northway who contributes recorded lessons for Doyon Foundation's Doyon Languages Online project. Cora is the daughter of...

Congratulations DLO On the Go Contest Winners

Thank you to all the language learners who participated in our DLO On the Go contest earlier this year! Through the contest, we aimed to increase the number of students and the amount of time spent learning in Doyon Languages Online, which offers free online courses...

Molly of Denali Cast Announced for Gwich’in Episodes

Doyon Foundation is working with WGBH Boston to produce two dubbed episodes of the PBS Kids’ show Molly of Denali in two of the Native languages of the Doyon region: Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in). After reviewing the auditions submitted during...

Virtual Gathering Celebrates Doyon Languages Online II Contributors

Doyon Foundation hosted a virtual gathering in late September to mark the conclusion of our Doyon Languages Online II project, and acknowledge and express gratitude to the individuals involved in making it possible. This phase of the Doyon Languages Online project...

November 2021 Native Word of the Month

In our Native languages, the names of the months aren’t just words – they describe what is taking place during that time of year. For example, November is referred to as Sooge Zo’, or marten month in Denaakk’e/Koyukon. In Inupiaq, November is Nippivik, or sunset time,...