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

Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Voices of the Peninsula: A vote for Walker/Drygas is a vote for Alaskans

It’s easy to forget some of the many lost lawsuits, devastating budget cuts and general incompetence that defines Mike Dunleavy’s term as governor

This photo shows a return envelop for 2022 special primary. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Voices of the Peninsula: Learn how to access your ballot

The recent special primary election was the first time the state conducted an all mail-in ballot election

The Storyknife Writers Retreat in the summer of 2021 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Storyknife: Invest in women writers, read the rewards

Storyknife is committed to providing opportunities to a diversity of writers

Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: No more delays — finalize protections for Bristol Bay

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

Peter Asmus (Photo provided)
Why Alaska is leading the nation on energy innovation

Alaska is a unique vantage point upon which to review the world’s current energy conundrum

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: On Alaska’s gasline, you can’t schedule opportunity

Alaska has the largest source of stranded conventional gas (no drilling required) in North America

Charlie Pierce stands in his home on Thursday, March 11, 2022, in Sterling, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: When politics get dirty

So, let me step out front and dispel the already debunked false narratives …

Most Read