• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 24s

In Mountain Village, students learn language of Alaska’s First People

By Heather Hintze 5:06 PM December 4, 2013

Teacher hopes to inspire students to speak like their ancestors

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – It’s common for schools to teach French or Spanish, but in Mountain Village, kids are learning the language of Alaska’s First People.

“It’s wonderful and I just want these kids to learn what I grew up with,” said Theresa George, the school’s elementary bilingual teacher.

She’s proud to teach Yupik (also spelled Yu’pik) to first through sixth grade students. It’s quite a change, however, from when she was in school.

“I had the hardest time trying to speak English at school,” she recalled.  “I can remember back then I speak in Yupik to my peers and I got punished for that. So I worked really hard from my friends to speak English, just to be with the group.”

George was still able to speak Yupik at home with her family, but her life was never the same.

“It was like I lost something in my lifestyle,” she said. “I lost something which was my language, my Yupik language.”

Now she has the chance to inspire students to speak like their ancestors.

“These children here now, the language is practically gone,” George said. “Teaching the basics and just a little bit of it, I’m happy for that to increase their way of thinking, their way of speaking it.”

For her, it’s not just about teaching proper sounds and pronunciation; it’s about getting students to understand the meaning behind the words.

“It’s not only the language; a lot of our lifestyle and stories are passed down in Yupik,” she said.

She hopes the students will work to make Yupik a part of their everyday life so that one day they may pass down the language to their children as well.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Bethel DMV office to close indefinitely starting May 1

    by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK on Apr 25, 12:06

    If you need a new driver’s license, get it before the end of the week. Starting May 1, the Bethel DMV Office will be closing indefinitely until a new employee is hired, according to a report by KYUK. Current DMV employee Rebecca Phillip is leaving the office at the end of the month to take […]

  • Something for everyone in Anchorage Concert Association’s upcoming season

    by Daybreak Staff on Apr 25, 12:00

    From “Roger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” to “One Man Star Wars,” the Anchorage Concert Association’s 2017 to 2018 season has a little bit of everything. Kicking off the season is Grammy Award-winning artist Melissa Etheridge in September. Later that month is “Straight No Chaser,” an a capella group. In October, there’s “Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox,” […]

  • Ride hard and breathe easy in this year’s Clean Air Challenge

    by Daybreak Staff on Apr 25, 11:53

    Ride hard, and breathe easy in this year’s Clean Air Challenge fundraiser. It’s a bike ride happening in Talkeetna, Alaska on Saturday, May 6. One of the volunteers and participants, Julie Hasquet said she’s riding for her mother and daughters. Hasquet’s mother had lung cancer and passed away in 2001. She says her daughters have […]

  • News

    Pilot, company culture blamed for 2015 fatal Alaska crash

    by Associated Press on Apr 25, 11:43

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The National Transportation Safety Board says a pilot’s decision to fly using visual flight rules when conditions called for instrument rules was a cause of a fatal crash of a sightseeing flight in Alaska. The board says the airplane company’s culture and lack of a formal safety program also were behind […]

  • News

    APD asks for public’s help finding missing man

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Apr 25, 11:31

    Have you seen 27-year-old Seth Q. Harrison? The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help locating him. The agency said there are concerns for his well-being. According to a release from APD, Harrison was last seen at his home in the Lake Otis Parkway and Dowling Road area at 8 p.m. Monday. Police […]

  • News

    Alaska educators form ‘unprecedented’ united front against Senate cuts to education

    by Daniella Rivera on Apr 25, 9:25

    Forming what they call an “unprecedented united front,” public school officials from across the state — including Anchorage and Mat-Su Borough school districts — held a joint press conference Monday evening with a message for lawmakers. “We are here collectively to say we can and we must do better when it comes to funding public […]

  • Weather

    Soggy Seattle lives up to name, breaks another rain record

    by Associated Press on Apr 25, 8:46

    SEATTLE (AP) – Soggy Seattle has broken another rainfall record. The National Weather Service says the city measured 44.67 inches (114 centimeters) of rain between October and so far in April. That makes it the wettest such period since records began in 1895. Meteorologist Mike McFarland in the service’s Seattle office says it’s the second […]

  • News

    Kokhanok man dies in three-wheeler crash on Iliamna Lake

    by Associated Press on Apr 25, 7:52

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A 53-year-old Kokhanok died after his all-terrain vehicle crashed on Iliamna Lake. Alaska State Troopers say Gregory Wassillie died. Troopers on Sunday morning took a call from a local flight service that a man was spotted lying on the lake ice. Two Alaska Wildlife Troopers from King Salmon flew to the […]