Language Program Mission Statement
KIC Language Program recognizes that our languages are
essential to both our traditional and contemporary cultures, as
well as our identity as tribal members. We work in
partnership with our elders, educators, and other cultural
organizations to perpetuate the indigenous languages of our
region for the benefit of all tribal members.
Language Program Goals
- Improve language ability of program
staff, moving toward conversational proficiency.
- Develop a plan for a school-based
- Raise language awareness among tribal
and community members.
Language Program Services
Language Program Links of Interest
In September 2008, KIC Tribal Council
passed a resolution that directs our education department to
prioritize the preservation and revitalization of our heritage
Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages are severely endangered
with only a handful of fluent speakers and fewer young people
being taught heritage languages at home and in school. Our languages are integral to the continuation of our
culture, way of life, and tribal sovereignty. Our heritage languages provide our youth with a better
understanding of themselves, as well as the unique worldview
which has guided our people from time immemorial. Equipped with this knowledge, our youth will be better
prepared to meet the demands of traditional and contemporary
language work is part and parcel to well-being of our current
and future tribal community and its importance has been
recognized by Congress through the Esther Martinez Native
American Preservation Act of 2006.
KIC is committed to reversing
the trend of language loss by refocusing the work of the
cultural programs staff to develop a language program. Beginning in September 2008, by passage of tribal
resolution, the Tribe’s Cultural Instructors ceased work in the
public schools. Instead, Cultural Instructors entered into
Mentor-Apprenticeships with fluent speakers of the Tlingit,
Haida, and Tsimshian languages. Our Cultural Instructors are directed to increase their
language skills over the next five years towards fluency. As our Cultural Instructors’ language skills increase,
KIC will also begin developing language curricula appropriate
for a school-based language program. The school-based language program the Tribe plans to
introduce will incorporate many of the cultural and arts
activities that the school district and its students were
previously familiar with. Ideally,
partner with us in this endeavor and help to identify ways to
make the teaching of heritage language in our schools a reality.
This change in our focus is an
exercise in tribal self-determination. The Tribe has identified language preservation and
revitalization as a top priority and will continue to develop
and expand our language program. We also recognize this kind of project requires patience. While it was not an easy decision to pull the Johnson
O’Malley program from schools, it was the right decision. The decision to refocus our efforts towards the
preservation of our heritage languages was made for the benefit
or our grandchildren’s children.
"When you lose a language, a large part of the culture goes,
too, because much of that culture is encoded in the
L. Hale, linguist and activist on behalf of endangered languages.
Delores Ivins - Tlingit Language Mentor
Martha Denny -Tlingit Instructor/Language Apprentice
here for Bios
Phyllis Almquist - Haida Language Mentor
Linda Schrack - Haida Instructor/Language Apprentice
Click here for Bios
Attendees of the Southeast Alaska Native Language Summit,
which was hosted by Ketchikan Indian Community March 7-8, 2009.
During Winter 2009, Ketchikan Indian
Community partnered with Cape Fox Heritage Foundation to host
the inaugural Southeast Alaska Native Language Summit. The language summit featured a variety of speakers,
elders and academics, who presented on topics such as language
loss and vitality, master-apprentice programs, curriculum
development, and more. The goal of the language summit was to increase our
community’s awareness and knowledge of language preservation and
revitalization efforts and opportunities.
Over 70 people registered for
the summit and represented a myriad of interested. Tribal leaders, fluent speakers, students, educators, and
friends attended the summit. Presenters and registrants came from communities like
Hoonah, Wrangell, Klukwan,
, and as far
. Some of our speakers included: Hans Chester, Marsha Hotch,
Alice Taff, and Benjamin Young.
The keynote speaker was Daryl
Baldwin (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), who is the Director of the
Myaamia Project at Miami University of Ohio. The Myaamia Project is a tribal initiative located within
an academic environment to advance the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma's
language and cultural revitalization efforts. Its mission
is to preserve, promote, and research Miami Nation history,
culture and language. By the early 1900s, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma lost the
last of its fluent speakers. Despite this, our keynote
speaker and many others have worked to revive their language.
Challenging the notion that their language was "extinct," the
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma has utilized extensive written material
(most of which was documented by Jesuit missionaries) to reclaim
and awaken their language. Today, the Myaamia language can
be heard in the home, at summer camps and in the classrooms of
Miami Tribe’s language work can inspire all of us to not give up
hope on our Lingít, Xaad Kíl, and Shimalgyack.
Other highlights of the
conference included: Dominic Velez leading the entire group in a
Haida language body parts demonstration and an impromptu
conversation that happened between Benjamin Young (Hydaburg) and
attendees were also honored by the presence of fluent speakers:
Delores Ivins, Phyllis Almquist, Norma Wilson, and Erma
The 2010 Southeast Regional
Language Summit dates are TBA. Stay tuned!
KIC Language staff will be hosting several
workshops throughout the year to provide language instruction
and the basics of genealogy research. Participants will learn how to introduce themselves in
the Tlingit, Haida, or Tsimshian language. 2010 schedule coming soon!
Individuals, schools, and organizations can
request consultation from our language program staff for
curriculum development, transcription/translation services, and
more for a fee. Fee
schedule coming soon!