The youngest generation of Alaska Natives is doing their part to keep their native language alive. Students from schools around the state competed in the statewide Yup’ik Spelling Bee for Beginners Saturday.

The winner of the spelling bee was Daniel Hunter, a seventh grader from Sheldon Point School in Nunam Iqua. The two runner-ups behind Daniel were seventh grader Celeste Katcheak and sixth grader Emery Lockwood, both from Tukurngailnguq School in Stebbins.

Coaches have been working with students for months to prepare. One coach said it is an important way to pass on the traditions of their culture.

“We’ve been practicing on the weekends, so we haven’t had much free time to ourselves,” said coach Savanna Strongheart. “So all the hard work paid off.”