• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 48s

EY 2015 stresses Native language revitalization

By Heather Hintze 6:44 PM October 13, 2015

Rhythmic drumming pulsed through the Dena’ina Center as the Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers took the stage.

Elders say those kinds of performances at the Elders and Youth Conference are a small step toward bringing back Native languages.

“A lot of the dances they do are stories of how we lived and how our ancestors lived,” explained Mary Schaeffer, an elder from Kotzebue.

Elder keynote speaker Gregory Fratis Sr., from Saint Paul, delivered his speech in English and Unangax. He stressed the importance of coming together to preserve the past.

“The language, we have to bring it out,” he paused and translated it into Unangax. “It shows us who we are.”

Each Native tongue was highlighted at speaking circle workshops.

Nae Brown and Kyle Worl led the Tlingit circle. Brown grew up in Anchorage but has roots in Bristol Bay and Yakutat. She began learning Tlingit six years ago when she attended college in Juneau.

“There are things you can express in Tlingit that you can’t really express in English and I think that’s the most beautiful part about it is Tlingit is so poetic,” Brown said.

She said what was surprising about the language was how much it enhanced her life.

“It really touched my heart. I think it’s important for them to learn it because it really will heal them as they’re growing up,” she said.

Some have said Alaska Native languages are dying off. Elders at the conference said the languages are simply asleep and the workshops are an important part of waking them up.

“Make sure the kids learn the language starting at home and then continuing on through school as they grow up so we can keep the culture alive, because that is the foundation of who they are,” Schaeffer said.

Becky Benedixen, from King Cove, said her best advice to youth is to fill their hearts with love and respect their heritage.

“Go to your traditions, learn what your ancestors did and follow that,” she said. “It will lead you to a true path.”

By speaking like their ancestors, youth today can ensure their languages will continue on for generations to come.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Hiland Mountain plant sale starts Tuesday

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 22, 20:21

    The plant sale at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center is an event that some people wait all year for. Not just the people who come to buy beautiful hanging baskets but the inmates who grow them, as well. The sale has been going on for at least 20 years, according to Superintendent Gloria Johnson. Most of […]

  • Politics

    Alaska House approves measure limiting opioid prescriptions

    by Liz Raines on May 22, 20:14

    On Monday, the Alaska House passed a bill to limit initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply. House Bill 159 is part of a push from Governor Bill Walker’s administration to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic, which Walker declared a disaster in February. While members of the House spent nearly four hours debating the […]

  • Politics

    Sullivan’s town hall highlights senators’ difference on Planned Parenthood funding

    by Heather Hintze on May 22, 20:07

    Senator Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) town hall in Anchorage over the weekend highlighted how he and fellow republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) differ on funding for Planned Parenthood. He discussed a variety of topics from fighting opioid abuse to diversifying our economy, but it was the topic of healthcare that really got the crowd engaged. “My […]

  • Weather

    Record rainfall recorded across SE Alaska

    by Melissa Frey on May 22, 17:18

    Significant rain fell across most of Southcentral and Southeast Alaska this weekend as a storm system moved in from the Gulf of Alaska. For Southcentral, this was the wettest day seen in months. Anchorage picked up 0.25 inches of rain on Sunday alone. This was the most rain recorded in Anchorage since late-September of 2016. […]

  • News

    Search underway for 2 overdue boaters

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 22, 17:13

    Late Monday morning, a search began for two overdue boaters in Togiak. The Togiak Village Public Safety Officer contacted Alaska State Police around 11:15 Monday morning to report two overdue boaters. Troopers say Simeon Wassillie and Stephanie Poulsen, both 25, left the village on Saturday in an 18-foot, blue, open hull, 35hp boat and were […]

  • News

    APD seeks runaway teen, 15

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 22, 16:58

    Police are asking for your help in locating a missing teen they say ran away from home. Celonia Rainey, 15, was last seen in the 5200 block of Chena Avenue in east Anchorage Sunday afternoon around 1. Celoina is described as a light-skinned black female, standing 5-foot-7 and weighing about 165 pounds. She has short […]

  • News

    ASD to hand out 220 pink slips on Wednesday

    by Shannon Ballard on May 22, 16:35

    It’s the final countdown for Anchorage students, as there are just two days left until summer break. But, this year, it’s not just graduates who won’t be returning to their old classrooms this fall. More than 200 pink slips are all set to go out on Wednesday. This comes after five were already given to five […]

  • News

    North Korea fires medium-range missile in latest test

    by CBS News on May 22, 15:57

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Sunday fired a medium-range missile, U.S. and South Korean officials said, in the latest ballistics test for a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles. One U.S. official said it appeared to be a successful test of the land-based version of North Korea’s sub-launched missile, […]