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

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

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.