Fulfilling its commitment to preserve and promote the revitalization of Alaska Native languages, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is conducting a survey to help focus its language initiatives. The Center received a one-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans to develop the survey that is now located on the Center’s website at www.alaskanative.net.
The Heritage Center will assess the results of the online survey to develop a plan for preserving and revitalizing the diverse languages of Alaska Native people, connect potential Alaska Native language learners with the Native language programs available throughout the state and identify which languages aren’t being taught at all.
“‘Where can I learn my Native language?’ is a question we hear over and over again,” said Ember Thomas, the lead language coordinator with the Alaska Native Heritage Center. “With the information we receive from this survey, we will be able to better match those who are enthusiastic about learning these important languages with the programs and fluent speakers to ensure the languages are passed along to new generations.”
Alaska’s indigenous languages are being lost at an alarming rate and all but two are now listed as endangered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. More than 26 percent of Alaska’s Native population now resides in Anchorage, representing more than 9 linguistically distinct Alaska Native cultural groups including: Athabascan, Eyak, Haida, Inupiaq, Sugpiaq, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Unangax, and Yup’ik/Cup’ik nations. Therefore, the next step for the Center is to successfully apply for a three-year grant to begin offering Alaska Native languages classes and potentially broadcast the lessons online to reach learners throughout the state.
If you would like to help increase the potential for Alaska Native people to learn, teach or be involved in language revitalization and preservation, please participate by visiting the Centers’ website at www.alaskanative.net and completing the online survey.