Alaska Native Elders Strive to Pass Native Languages to Next Generations
Challenging task in the culture of Anchorage
ANCHORAGE - Gertrude Berry is one of more than 23,000 Alaska Natives from across the state who speak their native tongue and are trying to pass it on to the next generation. But that task is proving to be challenging.
Berry, a mother of four, grew up in the tiny village of Napakiak, near Bethel, where she says everyone spoke Yu’pik.
“It was taught by my grandparents, among the family and the village. I was practically raised by the family and the village, that's all I remember,” said Berry.
But now she says things are a lot different for her children who are growing up in Anchorage.
Both Berry and her cousin Althea Jackson are fluent in Yu’pik, and try to speak it whenever they can.
“A lot of people choose to speak English because it’s easier for them to understand,” said Jackson.
But despite the struggle, they say their language needs to be preserved, so it's never forgotten.