UAF addresses Native ‘linguistic emergency’

Alaska Native languages are in peril. But the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development is stepping up to the challenge. Faculty and staff have already put together a conference, called the Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute, that will begin Monday to tackle the problem.

A report published earlier this year brought much needed attention to the dwindling number of fluent language speakers. Some languages are at greater risk than others. For example, Upper Tanana and Haida have fewer than 10 fluent speakers remaining, while there are closer to 10,000 speakers of Central Yup’ik. The Alaska Native Language Preservation Advisory Council’s report also made a grim prediction that Alaska’s 20 indigenous languages would be extinct or dormant by the end of the century if they continue to decline at the current rate.

On April 28, Alaska legislators passed a concurrent resolution urging Gov. Bill Walker to sign a “linguistic emergency” order to bring attention to this impending disaster. As of Friday, Gov. Walker had not signed the order.

The faculty and staff at the College of Rural and Community Development deserve a round of applause for their quick response. The four-day conference will feature 140 instructors teaching these languages: Yup’ik, Inupiaq, Tlingit, Haida, Gwich’in, Dena’ina, Ahtna, Deg Xinag, Sugpiaq/Alutiiq and Denaakke’.

Instructors from the University of Hawaii Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language will also offer insight from their own work in revitalizing Hawaiian languages.

Registration is closed, but you can still livestream the Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute and see the schedule at uaf.edu/rural/anlri.

If you have any interest in learning one of Alaska’s indigenous languages, brushing up on a language you already know or want to know more about how you can help, be sure to tune in.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 19, 2018

More in Opinion

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Capitol
Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

tt
Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

1
Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Sullivan’s irrelevance in defense of democracy

Two years ago this week, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol…

People vote in polling booths at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: What’s on your 2023 schedule so far?

There is a Kenai Peninsula Borough Special Mayoral Election coming up in February